ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – Many students, parents and teachers have been back-to-school shopping recently but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a little different this year.
A new survey from Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer Meijer documents how the pandemic has changed the ways in which both parents and teachers prepare for fall as school districts reveal return-to-learn plans for in-person and virtual learning. Among the results, the study reveals that nine out of 10 parents rate safety measures as a deciding factor when choosing a brick-and-mortar retailer to shop their lists of supplies.
Jessica Daniels-Warner, Store Director, Meijer in Escanaba spoke with Local 3’s Rebecca Bartelme about what they have been seeing at their store lately.
Based on results from the survey, which queried 1,200 parents and teachers in July, the “new
normals” for the back-to-school shopping season include:
When are they shopping?
● An early start: Twenty percent of parents and teachers started their shopping earlier
than last year. The past 3 years have seen shopping pick up after mid-August, but
more than 60 percent are already focusing their purchases on basics and essential
supplies that may have limited availability during the expected last-minute back-toschool shopping rush.
● Waiting for the plan: More than a third of parents and teachers surveyed are still
waiting for learning plans from schools. As a result, they are waiting to start their
shopping until there is more clarity regarding the school year.
How are they shopping?
● Parents are not bringing kids shopping for back-to-school supplies: The younger
the child, the less likely parents will allow them to come shopping with them. Meijer
stores have now added their selection online, so kids can still be part of the
experience. That way, supplies are available via Meijer Home Delivery and Pickup
and kids can be included in the shopping process.
● Home delivery and pickup are on the rise: From 2019 to 2020, the survey indicated
a 550 percent increase in the use of home delivery or curbside pickup services as part
of their online shopping. Meijer is currently offering teachers an online coupon
through its mPerks program. They can receive $10 off their order and get free Meijer
Delivery or Pickup with the offer code for one online shopping trip through Sept. 6.
What are the top items?
● The new No. 1: In past years, personal protection equipment (masks, sanitizer and
wipes) was not a big seller for students going back to school. But this fall, personal
protection equipment is a back-to-school essential. Seventy percent of parents expect
to buy these items, up from 2 percent last year. To help teachers adjust, Meijer is
adding facemasks and hand sanitizers to its annual 15% Off Teacher Discount.
● Staying connected: Thirty percent of teachers plan to purchase electronic items to
help with virtual learning set up in their homes. Meijer expects to continue seeing
increases in electronics purchases from teachers (routers, mice, keyboards,
headphones, etc.) in the coming weeks. Many parents already purchased tablets and
other items for their students during the last school year.
● The year of the white board: As ZOOM calls and other virtual learning increases,
white boards and markers are replacing blackboards and chalk as tools gaining
prominence on back-to-school lists. Meijer expects to sell more than 200,000 white
boards for teachers as well as students.
● Increase in home workspace spending: While parents plan to spend less on locker
decor, backpacks, apparel and shoes for the beginning of the school year, they expect
to spend as much as $300 for bedroom and student workspace décor. That is a 66
percent increase over last year. Teachers are expecting to increase their spending for
personal protective equipment while decreasing their spend on materials for bulletin
boards and classroom décor.
● No more sharing in class: While past years have seen classrooms gather shared
supplies used by multiple students, the single greatest shift among teachers this year
was the recognition that shared resources are a thing of the past.
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