arrive before William R. Hite, superintendent for
the School District of Philadelphia, rings in the
new year on the first day of school on Aug. 27,
2018 at the Luis Munoz-Marin School in
— Kris Papiernik and Kia Griffin took their
great-nephew Sayyid Ishon Griffin to shop for
first-grade school supplies and seek out anything with
prints of his favorite superhero, the Black Panther.
Luckily, a variety of retailers had the 6-year-old’s
found a backpack from Macy’s, a lunchbox from Amazon,
a tin pencil box from Walmart and folders and
composition books at Target. Everything they purchased
— pencils, rulers, sharpeners — was in Black
Panther-themed colors of black and silver. “Shon,”
as his friends call him, packed it all up for his first
day at his Northeast Philadelphia elementary school.
Panther, when the movie came out, he was a superhero, he
was a cat, he was African, just the whole combination,
he went crazy and he’s been obsessed with Black
Panther since,” said Papiernik, 36. “Black Panther
gets to tag along with him to school. … It makes him
feel very confident, very strong and just helps him
focus, and he just loves it.”
season, young students snapped up superhero backpacks
with matching lunchboxes, like Shon’s, or ones with
sequins, said Stacey Keating, spokesperson for CBL
Properties, the retail real estate firm in Chattanooga,
Tenn. As students age, they prefer more simple
backpacks, such as those from North Face or Herschel.
Across all ages, puff ball keychains that attach to
backpacks and purses have been popular, too.
As far as
the superheroes, “it has been a trend that continues
to grow with all of the Marvel movies that continue to
come out,” Keating said. “It’s really just a huge
pop culture thing right now.”
predicted that Philadelphia-area parents would spend
more than the national average for those new backpacks,
clothes and supplies for K-12 students, and most parents
feel their financial status is better or the same as
last year, according to a recent Deloitte poll of 400
parents in this area.
found that these Philadelphia-area parents, with at
least one child in K-12 this fall, would spend an
average of $543 compared to the $510 U.S. average and
$568 Northeast U.S. average.
Philadelphia shopper typically spends more than the
national average, said William Park, Greater
Philadelphia retail leader at Deloitte & Touche LLP.
“They’re a little more digitally involved and they
tend to look for deals more.”
separate survey of 1,000 parents of school-age children
by local real estate research firm JLL found that about
62 percent of parents — more than last year — would
spend less than $250 on back-to-school shopping.
National Retail Federation, predicted consumers will
spend $27.5 billion on K-12 shopping and $55.4 billion
on college supplies. NRF CEO Matthew Shay attributed the
strong season expectations for spending to “consumer
confidence” and a “thriving” economy.
estimates they spent about $250 on back-to-school gear
for Shon because they searched for bargains at multiple
retailers and compared pricing.
knows that finding school supplies that reflect
students’ personality or desires helps make them feel
more confident. For this season, Target noted certain
backpack trends took hold, such as “seafoam green”
becoming a top trending color, and a preference for
anything with unicorns and other popular prints
including mermaids, tie dye, pineapples and reversible
sequins, said company spokesperson Meghan Roman.
are one of the ways students can show off their
personality as they head back to class, and Target makes
sure to have a diverse assortment, all able to fit a
standard file folder. At Target, the assortment of
backpacks includes those owned by brands such as Cat
& Jack, character backpacks, Trans by JanSport, C9
Champion and Swiss gear for tweens and teens.
all about making it easy for busy families and that’s
through the right assortment at the right price and
making it easy to get what they need,” Roman said.
A lot of
styles from the ‘90s are popping up this year, Keating
said, such as destroyed denim, high-rise jeans and
shorts, raw hemlines and overalls. Slip-on Vans or
similar shoes have also been popular, she said. The
company’s properties were seeing strong sales from
Apple products, especially tablets.
view came from Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment
Trust, which owns the Cherry Hill and Plymouth Meeting
Malls. Fall prints and colors — rose gold, metallic
and animal prints — along with checkered sneakers, a
variety of denim, and color-changing sequins on
backpacks and on clothing are some of the back-to-school
trends PREIT noted.
Philadelphia area shoppers planned to visit mass
merchants for back-to-school needs and 45 percent
planned to use online only retailers, Deloitte found.
The other stores they visit varies by income, with high
earners ($100,000-plus) also spending at department
stores, middle income ($50,000 to $99,000) shopping at
fast-fashion retailers, and low income frequenting
off-price stores. The JLL survey showed Walmart and
Target as the top retailers for back-to-schoolers and
found that more than half of parents planned to visit
just one or two stores.
the rise of e-commerce, the Deloitte survey noted a
plateauing in the use of electronics to shop.
Nationally, 59 percent of people said they used their
desktop or laptop for shopping in 2016. This fell to 57
percent in 2017 and 49 percent this year.
Park said this use of technology led him to wonder:
“Have we reached a digital saturation point” for
consumers using smartphones or computers or plumbing
social media to find out what everyone is buying?
dependence on digital seemed to have plateaued,” Park
said of shoppers.