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Back-to-school market in Canada - Statistics & Facts

Every year, parents and students prepare to start the academic year. This new beginning usually comes with new routines and tasks, along with preparation. The purchase of school supplies, clothes and personal computers, for instance, is a common practice amongst families that prepare for school season. Merchandising and retailers named this period prior to the beginning of the school year as back-to-school season. In Canada, back-to-school shopping usually involves expenditure planning among parents and students and product research.

According to a 2016 survey among Canadian consumers, 80 percent stated that they planned to buy new clothing for their children during back-to-school shopping. About 75 percent of them were planning to purchase shoes, whereas school suppliers made it to the shopping list of 74 percent of Canadian consumers. Backpacks, textbooks, beauty and grooming products are also popular products among back-to-school shoppers. In terms of timing, about 30 percent of Canadian students said they start back-to-school shopping two to three weeks in advance, and 28 percent of students leave it till one week in advance of school starting before purchasing the items they need. Canadian parents also start back-to-school shopping around the same time; about 32 percent of them stated shopping with two to three weeks in advance, and about a quarter of them said they prefer shopping one week in advance.

In 2016, students plan to spend, on average, about 208 Canadian dollars on back-to-school products. Parents' planned expenditure is more than double this figure, with parents planning to spend an average of 480 Canadian dollars while shopping for back-to-school items. Despite the difference in planned budgets between these two types of consumers, the majority of Canadian agree that purchasing back-to-school items can be a financial burden on families. About 91 percent of Canadian consumers also believe that back-to-school shopping is becoming more expensive year after year. This general attitude towards back-to-school shopping is reflected in young people’s attitude towards back-to-school shopping as well. About 70 percent of young Canadians stated that they try to stick to the bare minimum when shopping for back-to-school supplies. Mass merchandise stores such as Walmart are popular among young people in Canada for back-to-school shopping. About 66 percent of them said that they shopped at these stores for back-to-school items, while 58 percent said they prefer shopping at office supply store during back-to-school shopping season.


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