Coronavirus impact: Here's how back-to-school shopping will look different amid pandemic

ByLauren Martinez KGO logo
Friday, July 31, 2020
Coronavirus impact: Here's how back-to-school shopping will look different amid pandemic
Although back-to-school shopping won't be traditional amid the COVID-19 pandemic, experts expect "record spending" from parents on items that support distance learning.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Parents and students aren't sure what to expect as they gear up to return to school. Back-to-school shopping has now changed from traditional supplies to electronics.

Rachel Michelin, President California Retailers Association, says parents are investing more because of how abruptly school ended last year.

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"It's a whole different dynamic of really figuring out what is it your kids need, in a way that's not your traditional going to the store and buying the crayons and color pencils," Michelin said.

The National Retail Federation did some polling and found that, they're looking at record sales.

"We're anticipating breaking the record, having record spending for back to school but it's going to be in different supplies. Parents are now investing in electronics, they're investing in laptops, they're investing in headphones, they're investing in things to support distance learning," Michelin said.

She hopes teachers still release a list for parents and students to get so at least there could be some familiar structure.

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"It's important because that is part of the transition from going back to school. To have that structure I think is going to be really important for the success of our kids and back to school shopping is definitely a piece of the structure that I think our children need," Michelin said.

Her daughter is going into seventh grade and misses this part before going back to school.

"I know my daughter who's going into seventh grade- she misses that. That's kind of the rite of passage right, this time of year, you go you buy all your school supplies your backpack- your new lunch box. And that's not happening," Michelin said.

It's hard to say when or if there will be a back-to-school shopping rush.

"Do parents wait and come October that's when you see this rush to the stores to buy those types of supplies and right now you're seeing a rush on electronics. I don't know it's a different dynamic," Michelin said.

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Majority of California schools not returning to in-classroom education will impact the economy.

"The impact that will have on the economy of California and particularly local economies because of the sales tax revenue they're losing, that makes me sad as well," Michelin said.

At Classic Designs School Uniform, Operations Manager Todd Kirk says businesses is slower.

"We can have upwards of $50,000 dollars in sales, right now with our newer suppressed system we are kind of lucky to make $3,000. A lot of parents being unsure of what the school year is going to be like, should I buy now in case things run out or should I buy later incase school never starts," Kirk said.

He also added the uniform purchases parents are making are for Zoom calls.

"Based on the former Zoom meetings of the spring semester they want to have uniforms on their children during the Zoom meetings in this upcoming fall semester. They feel like it would bring more of a sense of unity keep them more focused," Todd said.

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