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New Digital Shelf Report

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June 23, 2021

Amazon 2021 Back-to-School Trends

Black chalk board with Photo by Deleece Cook

What to Expect This Season

It may feel like summer just started, but fall is just a few months away and that means back-to-school shopping! What do people look for when they’re doing their fall shopping on Amazon? We reviewed the past three years of Amazon search data to get a sense of what back-to-school keywords might be popular this season.

Methodology

Our team analyzed US Amazon search data from 2018, 2019, and 2020. In 2018 and 2019 the rush for back-to-school items was in August, but in 2020, the majority of searches occurred in September. This change in search behavior may have been due to the pandemic delaying the start of the school year in many states.

For August 2018 and 2019 and for September 2020 we reviewed the top 500 rising keyword phrases (kwp risers). A top 500 “riser” is a keyword phrase that increased its rank among the top 500 keywords on Amazon from the previous month to the current month. If a keyword was in the top “risers” for the three consecutive years (August 2018, August 2019, and September 2020), then we get the sense that this term is consistently popular during the back-to-school season.

Assorted colored pencils on white tablePhoto by Jess Bailey

Findings

The following keywords were “top risers” in 2018, 2019, and 2020:

  • colored pencils

  • backpack

  • desk

  • mechanical pencils

  • hand sanitizer

  • highlighters

  • xbox one (key tool for procrastinating studying)

  • composition notebook

  • jansport backpack

  • pencil pouch

  • spiral notebook

  • laminating sheets

  • glue sticks

  • lanyard

  • 2-inch binder

  • kids water bottle

  • 5 subject notebook

  • graph paper

These keywords even made it through a pandemic, so it would not be surprising if they increase in popularity come July or August of this year.

Boy wearing headphones while learning onlinePhoto by Compare Fibre

The 2020 school year was extraordinary because many students needed some form of an in-home classroom set up for distance learning. There were three main sets of keywords that saw significant increases in search volume in 2020:

  • “dry erase marker” and “dry erase board”

  • “kids headphones”, “headphones for kids”, and “kids headphones with microphone”

  • “blue light glasses for kids” and “kids blue light glasses”

These products became necessities for many doing their daily school activities online. Given that the majority of schools across the country will return to in-person learning this fall, it’s hard to say if these search terms will still be as popular as they were the previous year.

Boy and girl wearing masks and backpacks on their way to schoolPhoto by Kelly Sikkema

Searches that were popular in 2018 and 2019 may see a revival this fall as school returns to its usual format for most students. Some keywords that were popular in 2018 and 2019 but weren’t top risers in 2020 include:

Backpacks

  • under armour backpack

  • nike backpack

  • unicorn backpack

  • adidas backpack

  • fortnite backpack

  • backpack for girls

  • minecraft backpack

  • herschel backpack

  • clear backpack

  • jansport

Lunch Supplies

  • lunch box

  • vera bradley lunch box

  • thermos

  • yumbox

School Supplies

  • 1 inch binders 3 ring

  • zipper binder

  • 3 inch binder

  • ticonderoga 2 pencils

  • notebook

  • yellow highlighters

  • pencil box

  • 6 inch ruler

  • index cards

  • 1.5 inch binder

Classroom School Supplies

  • expo dry erase markers

  • red pens (for paper assignments -- teachers were digitally grading work in 2020)

  • push pins

  • classroom decorations

  • chalk

Other

  • shower caddy (essential for dorm life)

  • locker shelf

There may not be a revival of all of these keywords, but we can see general categories of searches that may again be top risers this fall. Predicting the future in Amazon search can be difficult, but our Emerging Trends tool can help you see what’s coming so you can be one of the first to jump on an opportunity!


Get access to more than five years of Amazon search trends. Find out more about MerchantWords Amazon API.


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