In-store shopping dominant in back-to-school season in US

17 Jul '15
3 min read

The Back-to-School (BTS) season is officially underway in the US, and more than one-third (34 per cent) of consumers have already begun shopping, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) BTS Consumer Spending Survey.

Consumers still prefer physical stores for BTS shopping, with 83 per cent of their purchases involving physical stores, including 7 per cent of purchases that will be made online and picked up in-store. Of those who will order online and pick-up in-store, 79 per cent said they are likely to buy additional items once in the store.

Driving in-store BTS purchases in 2015 are the 42 per cent of respondents who still prefer the opportunity to physically examine merchandise before purchasing, while 37 per cent like the convenience of one-stop shopping. The importance of omnichannel continues to grow significantly, as 79 per cent of respondents plan to use a mobile device while shopping in-store for BTS.

Of those planning to use a mobile device while shopping in a physical store, 44 per cent will use their phone to compare prices, 28 per cent will use digital coupons, 26 per cent will check ratings and reviews, 24 per cent will check inventory and availability of items and 17 per cent will email or text friends and family for a second opinion on an item.

“Retailers are enjoying a strong start to the BTS shopping season after a sluggish first quarter of 2015,” said Jesse Tron, spokesman for ICSC. “While typically viewed as an essential expenditure, BTS shopping also highlights many of the trends occurring in the shopping center industry. As physical spaces merge with digital to further enhance the omnichannel experience, consumers are shopping in physical stores, participating in webrooming and using mobile technology at shopping centers. It’s good news as we progress into the all-important latter half of the retail calendar.”

The share of consumers expecting to spend more this year increased significantly year-on-year to 67 per cent, compared to 50 per cent of shoppers in 2014 and 39 per cent who expected to increase spending in 2013.

BTS shoppers are planning to buy a variety of products, including school supplies (76 per cnt), apparel and shoes (75 per cent), electronics – including computers, phones, accessories and wearables (53 per cent), backpacks and bags (45 per cent) and eyeglasses (22 per cent).

Marketing appears to be the main driver of BTS shopping, as 74 per cent of consumers report that they will likely start BTS purchasing when advertisements from major retailers begin to appear.

The results show August leading the BTS season, with 53 per cent of BTS spending taking place in late summer, and the remainder of shopping split between June (10 per cent), July (21 per cent) and September (17 per cent).

The ICSC survey found that discount stores are still the leading BTS shopping destination, with 77 per cent of consumers turning to discount retailers for their BTS shopping needs. Another of this year’s winners is apparel stores, where one-quarter (25 per cent) of consumers plan to shop this season.

Overall, BTS shoppers plan to shop at a variety of store types that also include office supply stores (40 per cent), online-only retailers (29 per cent), department stores (38 per cent) and wholesale clubs (22 per cent). Only five percent of respondents indicated they would use catalogues. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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