Survey: 1 in 4 Canadians will go shopping for back-to-school this year - Retail Council of Canada
Marketing & Merchandising | National

Survey: 1 in 4 Canadians will go shopping for back-to-school this year

August 10, 2023

TORONTO – August 10, 2023

According to Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) Back-to-School 2023 Shopping Survey, people plan to spend carefully this year and are more focused on purchasing lower-priced items than in years past. In line with this, stationery is expected to be the top spending category (60.8%), which is noteworthy since this this product category did not make the list at all in 2022. Shoppers also plan to defer purchases of higher-priced items.

The rush to shop starts now as 29.5% of respondents said they plan to make their purchases 2-4 weeks before the start of school returns (vs 42.9% in 2022). 15.7% of Canadians will make their purchases one week or less before the start of school. This is a shift from 2021 and 2022 when we saw people shopping much earlier because many items were expected to be out of stock.  Now that they supply chain has normalized, consumers intend to shop closer to the start of the school year.

Other takeaways of interest include:

  • Almost 2/3rds (66%) of Canadians make a dedicated trip to purchase back-to-school items, whereas in 2022 only 32.7% did.
  • 81% of Canadians will shop at brick-and-mortar retailers in their neighborhood instead of purchasing their items online. This is almost double of what we saw in 2022 (41%).
  • 6% of Canadians plan to spend more than $50. The number of people planning to spend less than $50 has gone up by 3.4% compared to 2022, which is indicative of the tightening of purse strings due to the prevailing economic conditions.
  • Stationery (60.8%), followed by clothing (32.1%), books and music (23.4%), and personal or home electronics (18.2%) are the top back-to-school shopping spending categories.
  • Big box retailers (62.3%), followed by clothing (32.1%) and department stores (19.5%) and drug stores (18.4%) will take the biggest share of Canadian’s wallets during back to school.

About the Survey

Caddle, in partnership with the RCC, surveyed Canadians from coast to coast to better understand consumers’ shopping intentions around the back-to-school shopping season. Surveys were conducted in July 2023 using Caddle’s mobile platform and online panel amongst a representative randomized sample of n= 9,165 and n= 9,848 Canadian adults. All data presented has a Margin of Error of 1% or lower.


About Retail Council of Canada

Retail is Canada’s largest private-sector employer with over 2.3 million Canadians working in our industry. The sector annually generates over $91 billion in wages and employee benefits. Core retail sales (excluding vehicles and gasoline) were over $462B in 2022. Retail Council of Canada (RCC) members represent more than two-thirds of core retail sales through small, medium, and large retail businesses across the country. This includes 54,000 storefronts including department, grocery, specialty, discount, independent retailers, online merchants and quick service restaurants. Our grocery members alone represent more than 95 per cent of the market in Canada.


For more information, contact: Michelle Wasylyshen at