Sales of traditional supplies for the 2017 back-to-school season were $4.2 billion in the U.S., a 1 percent increase over last year, according to The NPD Group. September was the catalyst of growth, driving sales for the entire season through Sept. 23.
Coinciding with the tax-free holiday shift in Texas, dollar sales peaked during the week ending Aug. 12, making the peak one week earlier than last year. However, the largest gains came in the week ending Sept. 9, the first full week of September, when the post-Labor Day students returned to school. The brick-and-mortar channel experienced its strongest sales performance during this week and accounted for 85 percent of the absolute dollar growth. The industry was given another lift the following week, and an even greater boost approaching the tail end of September.
Inspired by the slime trend, glue was a hot commodity for back-to-school 2017. Glue sales increased by 39 percent compared to last year, and contributed $52 million of the total dollars gained during the season. Also among the top growing products based on sales were traditional pens, mechanical pencils, appointment books/planners, and spiral notebooks. Comparing against the adult coloring trend of 2016, sales of coloring and art products such as colored pencils and coloring pages declined. Presentation/reference/binders were the biggest driver of decline this season.