GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — When it comes to families teaming up for back-to-school shopping, Meijer reveals self-expression is a key consideration as students and parents are checking items off their lists this summer. The Midwestern retailer says their enthusiasm for a return to classroom learning is revealing trends that have them shopping earlier with a special focus that reflects their students’ desire to go back in style.
With expectations for one of the busiest shopping seasons in the last decade, merchandise buyers at Meijer stores have stocked more than 1,800 items and notes that parents with kids in elementary school are more supportive and planning to spend an average of $849.50 on school items. Parents are also shopping similarly to teachers, focusing on the basics – including gel pens, markers, pencils, paper, notebooks – that can be bought in bulk or larger count packages so their students have plenty of items for home, as well as their classrooms.
On the other hand, their students are more focused on the supplies and accessories that were skipped over last year.
“Families really want to be prepared for returning to classes, so the enthusiasm for in-person learning is really evident as they shop in our stores,” said May Graceffa, Director of Back-to-School Merchandising for Meijer. “We’re seeing parents collaborating with students to plan ‘their’ look and choose the supplies that will best match their personalities while sitting in class and walking through school halls.”
Graceffa said that even though every teacher at every school has a different list, the following trends for the coming school year are expected to continue across the Midwest:
- Upgrading backpacks: Many students who have been learning remotely may have outgrown the backpack they used 2 years ago. Even if it still fits, students may need to upgrade their backpacks to carry laptops, tablets and electronic accessories or find a pack that better fits their style as they enter a new grade. The most popular options from a parent’s perspective might be backpacks featuring added safety features to protect expensive electronics and valuables.
- Sporty and outdoorsy: For students into sports like soccer, football and basketball, Adidas, Champion and Under Armour are top trends. High Sierra and Columbia backpacks are also popular for students interested in a more outdoorsy, bohemian style.
- Basics that POP!: As students pay particular attention to up-and-coming fashion trends, those same colors, textures and themes are helping items like notebooks, folders, pencil pouches and planners gain appeal. Popular colors include mints, pinks, blues, and rose-golds while geometric patterns are trending, especially on folders. The biggest themes this year include gaming, sharks, dinosaurs, marble, tie-dye, space, rainbows and animals.
- Gender-neutral styles: While some students are planning their looks to capture attention, others are planning to break free from stereotypes and get back to basics. Primary colors and pattern-free designs are gaining popularity as students seek ways to express themselves.
- Positive affirmation: Many of the top folders students and parents are choosing include positive sayings or inspirational quotes. The most popular folders in customer carts include, “Make Today Amazing,” or “Kindness is Cool” and “Be Strong, Be Brave, Be You.”
- Back to lunch: If searching for the best lunch box for kids of elementary school age, look no further than reusable insulated lunch boxes, lunch bags and accessories. Designed to be leakproof and durable, these products are again popular for keeping chilled food cold and are a sustainable way to carry food and snacks.
Finally, while self-expression and style are key components to this year’s back-to-school shopping, masks, sanitizer, and wipes are still essential on many supply lists. Based on how quickly parents and students had to adjust in 2020, restocking personal safety items is not a trend, but a necessary step to be fully prepared for returning to class.
“Ultimately, parents want their students to have the best first day ever,” Graceffa said. “Nothing beats catching up with classmates and getting to take part in all of the extracurricular activities missed as they adapted to blended learning last year, so we’re hoping that the trend of parents and students teaming up on a return to class is going be a huge success for everyone.”
For more information, please visit the Meijer Back-to-School site.