Over 90 Percent of Teachers Use Personal Funds to Purchase School Supplies, Group Finds
Port Washington, N.Y. — In addition to investing time in their students, 91 percent of K-12 teachers have a personal, financial stake in their success, according to Today’s Teachers: School Supply Purchasing Dynamics & Behaviors, a new report from global information company The NPD Group which examines the purchasing behaviors of public and private school teachers in the U.S.
With only 62 percent of students being able to supply all the items on their school list, one of the areas two-thirds of teachers spend their own funds is towards purchasing some or all of the items students cannot afford. The study found that teachers will spend about $500 on school supplies by the end of the 2014-2015 school year, with 47 percent of it sourced from their personal funds, and over one-third expected to spend more this year than last.
“Various factors are contributing to a teacher’s attitude, emotional state, as well as shopping and purchasing activities,” said Leen Nsouli, office supplies industry analyst, The NPD Group. “These include changing dynamics in terms of marketplace competition within the office and school supply industry, as well as shifts in school budgets, and technological advancements which have transformed the way students think and learn.”
Just as classrooms, school budgets, and the education system as a whole have experienced changes, so have school supply needs. While pens and pencils, glue, markers, and sticky notes continue to make the top 10 list of school supply items purchased, janitorial supplies are becoming increasingly important, with products such as hand sanitizer and facial tissue making it into the top 10 as well. According to NPD’s 2014 School List database, these two items, as well as disinfectant and hand wipes, are also among teachers’ top five wish list items*, a list that 35 percent of teachers sent to parents this year, in addition to the school supply list.
Top School Supply Categories Purchased by Teachers
- Writing and Children's Activity Items
- General Office, Desk and Filing Supplies
- Notebooks and Other Paper Items
- Janitor/Sanitation/Breakroom Products
- Arts/Craft and Project Material
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Today's Teachers: School Supply Purchasing Dynamics & Behaviors, April 2015
Back-to-School Throughout the Year
Though back-to-school is most commonly associated with August and September, NPD found that teachers purchase, on average, during three different months of the year. The third quarter is peak season for the industry, but 52 percent of teachers also purchase during January, February, and March.
“Manufacturers and retailers should turn this into an opportunity to partner together and fine-tune strategies that will help better target and meet the needs of today’s teachers,” added Nsouli. “They must also take note of the shifts happening within the industry, which is driving competition up. Today it is crucial for players within the school and office supply industry to understand teachers and all other key demographics in detail, from how and where they shop, to what motivates them to buy.”
The report, Today’s Teachers: School Supply Purchasing Dynamics & Behaviors, is based on an online survey by almost 1,000 U.S. teachers who teach kindergarten through high school. The survey was fielded in February 2015.
*NPD’s School List database is comprised of data sourced from approximately 10,000 online K-12 school supply lists during the summer of 2014.