We are currently in one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year – Back to School. Every year, retailers are benefited from the start of the school year, but this year the shopping trend is likely to be a little different thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
As per the National Retail Federation (NRF), back-to-school spending is likely to be an average $789.49 per family, surpassing the previous record of $696.70 last year. Spending is expected to total $33.9 billion, up from $26.2 billion last year and topping the record of $30.3 billion set in 2012.
Majority of the outlays would be made on tech products as the school year will likely begin primarily with remote learning. According to the survey done by NRF, 63% of K-12 families look to buy computers and other electronics this year, up from 54%last year, and they expect to shell out more at an average $274.44, up from $203.44 last year.
Purchases will also be made primarily online despite the gradual reopening of bricks-and-mortar stores. More than half of K-12 shoppers (55%) say they will buy online, up from 49% last year. Other conventional shopping destinations are expected to see a decline in footfalls.
The NRF survey found out that 36% expect to buy laptops, 22% look to buy computer speakers/headphones, 21% would purchase other accessories such as a mouse or flash drive, and 17% will buy printers. Also, 17% plan to buy non-computer items including calculators, furniture like a desk or chair, and workbooks. Tech products like laptops, Chromebooks, mesh routers, wireless earbuds, and smart speakers should be in high demand this season.
In short, tech stocks and ETFs are likely to surge again in the near term. The tech space has benefited a lot this year from the work-from-home culture. Now e-learning would be another driver to boost this surging segment a shade further.
Against this backdrop, below we highlight a few tech ETFs that could win from the back-to-school season 2020.
Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK)
The fund houses two key tech stocks — Microsoft and Apple — with massive weights. Microsoft’s back-to-school sale is already out and the company cut Surface, accessory and PC prices. Apple will offer a pair of AirPods free with the purchase of Mac or iPad in education pricing. Moreover, there are discounts on accessories and 20% savings on AppleCare+.
Communication Services Select Sector SPDR Fund XLC
The fund puts about 11.83% in Alphabet (GOOGL). Google has several offerings that are apt for back-to-school buying. These include Google’s Nest Mini (which is a hockey puck-sized smart speaker), Google’s Pixel Buds, Google’s Nest Wifi, Google Chromebook etc.
ProShares Online Retail ETF (ONLN)
The underlying ProShares Online Retail Index is a specialized retail index that tracks retailers which principally sell online or through other non-store channels. Consumers’ inclination for more online buying should make this ETF a back-to-school winner (read: Online Retail ETFs to Keep Soaring in Q3 as Virus Hits Hard).
Global X Education ETF EDUT
The new fund looks to invest in companies providing products and services that facilitate education, including online learning and publishing educational content, as well as those involved in early childhood education, higher education, and professional education. Zoom Video Communications, which we believe would be crucial even in e-learning, has more than 6% weight in the fund.
VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH)
The growing need for technology and gadgets means higher demand for semiconductor. Hence, we expect this chip fund to also benefit from the new school season.