It’s August, and for many families, that means it’s back-to-school time! Did you know that back-to-school is the second-largest shopping season of the year? According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), shopping trends indicate that back-to-school and back-to-college spending are projected to reach $83.6 billion this year, with the average seasonal shopper expected to spend $688 this year.
The Motherhood explored back-to-school shopping trends, including how consumers research, where they are buying and how social media habits come into play for this year’s popular shopping season. Here’s what we found:
When are People Shopping?
According to an NRF back-to-college spending survey, nearly half of those surveyed (46.7 percent) plan to start their back-to-college shopping between three weeks and one month before school starts. The same timing applies to elementary school students, according to School Family Media’s TeacherLists.com*, a service that gives parents a one-click system to order their child’s exact school supply list from online retailers.
Southern states account for 44 percent of all school enrollments, and the majority of these shoppers (70 percent) begin before August. This group also spends more than those in other regions of the country — an average of $554.
Research and Social Inform Purchasing Decisions
Google Trends indicates that searches for back-to-school start to increase as early as June, and peak in August. What’s more is that three out of five searches on the topic occur on mobile devices, which is a 35 percent increase in mobile back-to-school searches from the 2015-2016 school year.
When it comes to mobile, a survey by Deloitte indicated that shoppers use computers and smartphones during the shopping journey. Furthermore, 27 percent said they plan to use social media for transactional reasons (to find coupons and to browse items), and 77 percent said they would try new digital in-store technologies that offer value/convenience.
Online vs. Brick-and-Mortar
Small Business Trends reports that last year, 70 percent of back-to-school sales took place in brick-and-mortar stores. eMarketer projects that online sales will grow by 14.8 percent compared to last year — but will only account for a little more than eight percent of all back-to-school retail sales. One reason behind the preference for in-store shopping could be because of tax-free shopping days, which many states hold in August.
What’s on Shopping Lists?
Deloitte indicated that traditional school supplies (think folders and paper notebooks) are less in-demand since there has been a shift to technology-based learning in schools. Another reason could be that parents are using pre-made school supply kits, which are offered in some places. This year, the majority of shoppers’ budgets (55 percent) is expected to go to clothing and accessories, which is 10 percentage points higher than 2016 back-to-school shopping.
eMarketer predicts that the most popular products purchased during this season include: apparel and accessories, books, music and videos, computers and consumer electronics, office equipment and supplies, and toys, hobbies and sporting goods.