Back to School season is here! What are we buying in the U.S. and Canada?

by | Jul 25, 2019 | Public Relations

The retail cycle always has us thinking about things a bit earlier than we’d like, and “Back to School” season is no exception!

Here at Agility PR Solutions, the Media Insights team is tracking media coverage related to “Back to School” shopping in both the U.S. and Canada. Starting from the beginning of July, we are keeping an eye on this topic so we can see how it plays out over the summer.

Where are we shopping?

In the first two weeks of July, it was no surprise to see Amazon emerge as the retailer mentioned most often in relation to “Back to School” media coverage. With Amazon Prime Days happening mid-month, this popular event was often discussed as a good time for families to get some of that school shopping out of the way early.

In both countries, Apple ranked a strong second second, directly competing with Amazon by offering its own deals at the same time. Apple’s prominence came as a small surprise in a field we would expect to be dominated by traditional school supply destinations like Staples or Walmart. In addition to its efforts to go head-to-head with Amazon, the company also officially launched its own “Back to School” campaign, which led to frequent mentions of Apple products in headlines, particularly MacBooks, as shown in the wordclouds below (left: U.S.; right: Canada):

Back to School season is here! What are we buying in the U.S. and Canada?

Similarly, competing bargains and Target’s teacher discount program helped the retailer come in strong at third place in the U.S., while Walmart placed third for the Canadian market. Walmart was fourth overall in the U.S.

What are we buying?

Looking at the topics that were mentioned most often in headlines, it seems like shoppers in the U.S. are ready to think about essential school supplies like calculators and binders, while Canadians are still in an earlier phase of planning, focusing mainly on bigger ticket items. Overall, just 30 percent of the articles from Canadian publications mentioned school supplies, compared to 47 percent in the U.S.

Back to School season is here! What are we buying in the U.S. and Canada?

Agility PR Solutions used its proprietary media database to track online news coverage for keywords related to “Back to School” for the period of July 1 to July 14. In total, 3,727 articles were gathered in the U.S. and 218 articles were gathered for Canada.

Stephanie Coulter
Stephanie Coulter is Manager, Research and Analytics at Agility PR Solutions, overseeing the execution and delivery of media measurement and analysis reporting.