64% of college students plan to shop online for school supplies

College stores and bookstores are the top destinations for back-to-college shopping, both for parents (63 percent) and students (71 percent). However, 64 percent of students expect to purchase a majority of their supplies online, while most parents plan to make most purchases in brick-and-mortar stores.

According to Deloitte's 2016 Back-to-College Survey, college students plan to spend an average of $1,082 on back-to-school supplies this year, and their parents will spend an average of $1,345. While 57 percent of students say they will contribute more than half of the school funds, only 16 percent of parents expect their child to do so.

In total, families are expected to spend $75.8 billion on back-to-school shopping this year, with college-aged students spending about the same as they did in 2015. More families plan to shop earlier, and fewer are waiting until the last minute.

"College-age students are taking on more financial responsibility and have a larger say in purchasing decisions during back-to-school shopping. Surprisingly, they're even willing to contribute more to the budget than parents expect," said Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte and retail and distribution practice leader. "The survey also revealed that shoppers who plan to spend early in the season also expect to spend more money than those who wait until later. It's vital for retailers to recognize that this customer base is segmented between students and parents and they will need to be strategic in their timing and offering of promotional information."

Although physical stores will be a top destination, 82 percent of students and 74 percent of parents will conduct research online before purchasing products in-store. Seventy-one percent of college students plan to use their phones during the shopping journey, and 79 percent plan to purchase items from an online retailer with free shipping.

In addition, 45 percent of college students surveyed plan to use social media to assist in shopping.

For more:
- see this Deloitte press release