Back to school is just around the corner — Here's how Canadians are getting ready

Kate Mendonca
·Shopping Editor
·3-min read

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Colourful children schoolbags outdoors on the field. Backpacks with school accessories
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Although it may not look quite like what we’re used to, the 2020-2021 back to school season is quickly approaching for Canadian families.

With that comes the usual returns towards routine and learning, but this year may just require a little more creativity as parents and students alike navigate the changes brought on by COVID-19.

Rakuten.ca, the one-stop shop for coupons, promos and cash back online, recently released data around Canadian shopping trends ahead of this year’s back to school season, outlining how adults across the country are getting ready.

Shopping cart with colorful school stationery, back to school background
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Uncertainty still looms

Unsurprisingly, the results show that many Canadians are preparing for another round of the same uncertainty that defined the final months of the 2019-2020 school year, and are looking to make improvements at home.

Both parents (89 per cent) and post-secondary students (80 per cent) that were polled overwhelmingly agree that they are waiting on detailed back to school protocols from governments and school boards before engaging in any serious back to school shopping.

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That hasn’t stopped them from spending though, and on average, Canadians across the board plan to dish out $204 on back to school supplies. Shopping habits are also changing this year, with 81 per cent of survey respondents admitting that they plan on doing at least some of their shopping online.

Back to school shopping begins now

According to the survey, the majority of Canadians polled (53 per cent) said that they would begin their back to school shopping during the month of August, compared to just 17 per cent who said that they had already started in July.

For those that are planning to wait, 18 per cent of respondents said that they will be holding off until September to make any purchases, while 16 per cent don’t plan on doing any back to shopping at all.

Distance learning online education. A schoolboy boy studies at home and does school homework. A home distance learning.
Getty Images.

Tech for all

In light of the current pandemic and uncertainty around virtual learning, 69 per cent of Canadians polled say that they may have to update or purchase new technology in order to be prepared for this coming school year.

While it’s normally expected to see higher technology purchase rates for older students, this year many retailers are actually seeing higher technology purchase intention rates for those with young children vs older children (77 per cent of parents with pre-school aged kids say they will need to buy/upgrade tech for their child versus only 66 per cent for parents of post-secondary kids).

Among the most in-demand items, Canadians plan on purchasing items like computers or laptops (54 per cent), microphones or headphones (33 per cent), tablets, particularly for younger students (32 per cent), printers or scanners (30 per cent), and desks or furniture (26 per cent).

The Rakuten.ca survey was conducted online in mid-July 2020 with a nationally representative sample of 1,010 Canadians. A sample of this size is accurate to within +/-3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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