Back to School Shopping Poised to Decline as Parents Plan, Re-use


Despite reports that say that parents are spending more than ever on back to school shopping, parents may actually be spending less this year. The shopping event, second only to the November-December holiday shopping season, is not as popular with shoppers this year.

Parents of children in kindergarten through 12th grade have reported that they plan to spend $434 during back to school shopping this year, which is a 20% decline, writes Krystina Gustafson for CNBC.

The reason behind this may be largely due to an increase in online shopping throughout the year. Many parents prefer to stock up on items as needed, or when they see a good deal, rather than save all the school supply shopping for July and August. Parents have also reported that if they do plan to shop during more traditional months, they are doing so after school starts.

Another reason parents aren’t hitting the stores as hard this year is because they plan to re-use supplies they purchased last year. 39% of parents say that will do this when possible, writes Paul Ausick from 24/7 Wall St., which is an increase from the 26% who recycled supplies last year.

“Consumers are sending a message to retailers that says the back-to-school shopping season just isn’t that important anymore–and that could dramatically disrupt an industry that traditionally relies on this defined period for a significant portion of annual sales,” said Alison Paul, Deloitte LLP vice chairman and retail and distribution sector leader.

The decrease in back to school sales may also have to do with an increase in electronic purchases. Many shoppers don’t consider items such as tablets and PCs as “back to school” purchases – instead they view them as household items, and because of this they may not know or report what they are actually spending.

Lower-income consumers are still struggling from 2013’s payroll tax increase and reduction to benefits such as food stamps. Moody’s senior analyst Charles O’Shea this may explain their “choppy” spending behavior.

Another trend found by the survey is that consumers are more mission-driven in their purchasing, such as researching and looking up products using their smartphones before going into stores to purchase them. 4 in 10 costumers say they plan to visit retailer’s websites via smartphone before buying.

“Retailers should consider all digital interactions as not only important for online sales, but as a key driver for in-store purchases as well. We’re at an inflection point in retail where digital device adoption rates are accelerating toward 100 percent. Once this happens, there will be no such thing as offline since consumers will be constantly connected. Retailers can play an influential role to speed awareness and user acceptance of mobile payments and digital wallets, helping to make the path to purchase even easier.”

07 29, 2015
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