As the mercury levels soar across the U.S. and security concerns become increasingly paramount in middle and high schools, retailers are recording a surge in sales of see-through backpacks and jean shorts, popularly known as ‘jorts’. The shopping frenzy comes amidst the anticipation of a new academic year, with these last-minute purchases dominating the market. These trends seem to be a direct response to the nation’s heatwaves and a growing need for heightened security measures within school premises.
The back-to-school shopping season of 2023 is projected to be the most expensive yet, despite the looming resumption of U.S. student debt repayments on October 1. The National Retail Federation, a leading retail trade group, forecasts a spending surge beyond $135 billion, marking an increase of more than $24 billion from the previous year. Even as economic strains persist, consumers are finding ways to splurge on products and services they desire, signaling a robust retail market.
Back-to-School Shopping Trends: Clear Backpacks, Jorts, and Electronics Take Center Stage
Despite the financial strain of looming student loan repayments, retailers project a surge in back-to-school shopping for 2023, with clear backpacks, jean shorts, and electronics leading the trends.
A Record-Breaking Shopping Season
With student debt repayments set to resume on October 1st, many American families face budget pressures. Even so, 2023 is set to become the most expensive back-to-school shopping season on record. The National Retail Federation, a key retail trade group, anticipates a spending increase beyond $135 billion, exceeding last year’s total by over $24 billion. Retail and consumer behavior expert at Vericast, Chip West, mentioned, "Despite any financial economic challenges, consumers are finding a way to buy the products and services they want.”
Apparel Trends: The Reign of Jorts
Jean shorts, or "jorts," remain a staple in back-to-school fashion, particularly among teens and tweens. Melissa Cohen, former vice president of production at Polo Ralph Lauren and founder of MBC Consulting Solutions, noted, "They are unquestionably one of the hottest apparel items.” The continued popularity of these denim shorts has been linked to unusually hot weather patterns across the U.S., with social media influencer Nikki Mcneri adding, "People don’t want to stop wearing their perfect jorts of the summer and the weather is still hot.”
Clear Backpacks: Addressing Safety Concerns
A growing number of U.S. schools are addressing safety concerns by requiring clear backpacks, leading to a rise in their popularity. Leslie Sparacello, a school superintendent in Austin, Texas, whose former school required clear backpacks, explained, “The larger the school, the more they are needed.” She did raise concerns about the durability of these backpacks compared to other materials. Retailers such as Amazon and Walmart have seen an uptick in demand for these items, with Walmart recording a specific increase in Texas, Florida, and Mississippi.
Electronics: Essential for the Modern Student
Finally, electronics continue to be a crucial part of the back-to-school shopping list. Matthew Bilunas, chief financial officer at Best Buy, revealed that demand for electronics was "a little better than we expected," adding that back-to-school shopping is "running a little longer and a little later into the season." According to the NRF, nearly 70% of back-to-school shoppers in August were likely to purchase electronics such as laptops and computer-related accessories.
Back-to-school shopping trends for 2023 reflect a mix of practicality, safety concerns, and the influence of weather patterns. Despite financial strains, consumers are willing to spend on necessary items, particularly electronics, reflecting the increasing digitalization of education. The popularity of clear backpacks highlights the ongoing struggle to balance safety and convenience in schools. As the new school year begins, these trends offer a glimpse into the priorities and concerns of students and parents.