School Supply Lists 2020-2021: Take Advantage of an Extended Buying Season


School supply lists are a lifeline for teachers and districts. Outfitting students and classrooms has become a collaborative effort with teachers, parents, fundraising appeals and districts all pitching in. This year, with so much uncertainty about how and where instruction will happen and heightened focus on health and hygiene, lists look a little different.

With the stakes so high, brands and marketers need solid intel to help them support schools and teachers. In August 2020, we surveyed nearly 3,000 PreK-Grade 12 educators nationally and compiled everything we know about school supply lists into an updated report: An Inside Look at School Supply Lists for 2020-2021: Helping Districts and Educators Adapt. Here are some of our key findings about when, how, and what teachers and parents will be spending on school supplies:

1. Spending is later this year

As schools continue to figure out how and if kids are attending in-person classes, the window for purchases has stayed open, and will likely be year-round. Even once a decision is made, teachers are still improvising, troubleshooting, and learning as they go about what is needed for students and themselves to be successful.

CONCLUSION: Year-round outreach to keep educators engaged with your brand is critical.

2. School spending is projected to be up this year—and possibly record breaking

When home becomes the classroom, parents take on the job of providing all the supplies needed. In addition, educators teaching from home are finding they need a fully equipped home office with printers, tablets, web cams, white boards, microphones and other tools, in addition to consumables like paper, pens, and markers.

CONCLUSION: The $450 teachers typically spend out-of- pocket may be redirected to outfitting their own “home classrooms” and parents may need to spend more than in past years.  

3. School spending is changing

Keeping students safe this year will require individual supply kits for each student. Storing those individual supplies separately has created a need for containers, bins and plastic bags. Going into this school year, only 3% of teachers feel confident they’ll have enough PPE and cleaning supplies.

CONCLUSION: Supplies will be needed at scale to allow for individual student kits. Formerly shared classroom resources like books, manipulatives, and toys will need to be cleanable or swapped for individual versions.

There is plenty more to learn, including the kind of professional development resources teachers are asking for, and the level of support they are receiving from their administrations and communities. Get the full report, with additional insights, stats, and first-hand info from teachers on the front lines of education during the pandemic, here.


Have something to add to this article?