How Retailers Like Target and Walmart Prep for Back-to-School Shopping in 2018


“Back-to-school (B2S) season is the second-biggest shopping season of the year, with 29 million households across the United States planning to spend a total of $27.6 billion.”- Deloitte

Although it may feel like school just got out for summer, it’s never too early to start delivering on the back-to-school rush of sales, promotions and events.

With Prime Day under our belts and many legacy retailers looking for ways to compete during the summer months, we have our eyes glued to how a couple of major brands are offering a back-to-school shopping experience like no other. 

Target Offers “Teacher Prep” Event & School List Assist 

Just when you think back-to-school is all about the kiddos… 

Don’t forget about the teachers.

Target made sure verified teachers get the back-to-school discount they deserve – with 15% off classroom supplies (pens, pencils, crayons, notebooks, etc.) and essentials (disinfecting wipes, facial tissue, hand sanitizer, etc.) online and in-stores.

Additionally, Target is also pushing their “school list assist” to provide parents with an online resource to search for their kid's classroom list and add everything to their shopping cart with just one click. 

Target School List Assist - Here's How it Works

Walmart Invests in Mobile for New School Year

Earlier this month, Walmart rolled out a new app feature to improve the shopping experience for #back2school shoppers.

Once again, a stellar example of how Walmart is dipping their toes into tech to make the consumer experience simply better. Through the app, parents can view and shop for their child’s school-supply list while using a smartphone to locate the items in store aisles.


Not only that, but Walmart is also providing shoppers in select markets with home delivery options for back-to-school items (using the Walmart Online Grocery Delivery Service to do so).

Back-to-School Shopping Stats for 2018 

While it’s clear that Target and Walmart’s tactics are aimed toward getting families and teachers ramped up for the school year in a convenient, seamless way, here’s a look at various expectations for the #back2school shopping season this year:


  • B2S spend mostly within clothing & accessories - estimated $15.1B (out of $27.6B forecasted B2S spend overall).
  • People will mostly be shopping in-stores. Approximately 57% of total spend will be in-store, which is estimated to be about $15.7B
  • Opportunity for spend online is about $6.3B
  • $5.5B portion of spending up for grabs – consumers undecided between online & offline
  • For the most part, a majority of shoppers plan to spend at mass merchant retailers 

National Retail Federation:

  • About $27.5B in spending forecasted among families with children in elementary through high school
  • About $55.3B in spending forecasted among college and graduate students
  • Compared to previous years, B2S spending on electronics is expected to decrease (largely due to the fact these items are now a large part of everyday life)
  • The top destinations for consumers shopping for back-to-school items are department stores (57%), followed by online retailers (55%) 

Coresight Research:

  • US back-to-school sales to increase by 3.0%–4.0% this year (a more optimistic view compared to NRF’s 1% expected decrease)
  • Apparel and electronics are the two strongest categories in both back-to-school and back-to-college spending
  • E-commerce is set to make strong gains this year, with surveys finding a 10-percentage-point jump in shoppers opting to buy online.

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Topics: customer experience, back to school, convenience, consumer habits, delivery, consumer trends

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