PayPal Data Shows Back-To-School Shopping Upside Down

The pandemic certainly changed back-to-school buying habits. At least seen through the transactions of PayPal.

Transactions on PayPal Checkout grew nearly 40% year-over-year in Q2 2020, the company reported during an earnings call in late July. Total payment volume grew at 30%, with a record $222 billion processed in the quarter.

Overall transactions grew by 26% to 3.7 billion, consistently equaling the volumes usually experienced during the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. June marked the company’s highest growth rate since its separation from eBay in 2015.

The survey of 600 college students and 1,200 K-12 parents commissioned by PayPal and conducted in July 2020 by Netfluential shows 40% of parents and 35% of college students plan to spend more this year compared with last.

First-year college students will spend $732 on average, compared with $444 among K-12 parents.

Hot back-to-school items are not what they used to be. About 81% of consumers purchasing back-to-school products plan to spend more on safety supplies, compared with last year, and 59% plan to spend more on remote learning and technology tools.

What are back-to-school shoppers buying? Some 39% will spend money on headphones, 34% on laptops, 32% on arts and crafts material, 14% on tablets, 24% on printers, 23% on desks, 19% on office desk chairs, 18% on monitors, 16% on cabinets or bookcases, and 14% on standing desks.

The survey data also suggests 83% are buying hand sanitizer, 73%, disinfectant wipes; 62%, disposable face masks; 56%, non-disposables face masks; 50%, tissues; 40% disposable gloves; and 28%, goggles.

They are also spending money on remote learning equipment, with 63% saying they plan spend more on remote learning furniture and home goods, and 59% spending more on remote learning and technology.

Credit cards are the most preferred payment method for parents who are buying back-to-school items online, but 30% of students are interested in buy now, pay later or other options.

Unsurprising, ecommerce shopping continues to dominate, with 70% of students and parents admit to shopping online more often than before due to COVID-19, and 73% of students and 65% of parents anticipate shopping online for their back-to-school needs.

This includes online purchases of technology or the bigger items such as a chair or desk while traditional back-to-school items that require trying-on are expected to be bought in-person.

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