Despite forecasts of a highly promotional season and flat growth in absolute dollars, Back-to-School is in a crucial phase for retailers looking to carve out a sizeable slice of this $27 billion retail pie given early shoppers are likely to spend more than late starters. An estimated 62 percent of all B-T-S shopping is done between late July and early August, according to Deloitte research. Also, it should be noted that average B-T-S spending on school supplies, computers/Hardware and electronic gadgets is projected to decline, but rise 19 percent to an average $284 for clothing and accessories.
Macy’s, confronted with a consumer survey suggesting B-T-S shopping in traditional department stores will fall 26 percent this year to 28 percent of all purchases, distributed a 12-page “Great Active Sale” circular in yesterday’s newspapers offering 25-40 percent discounts on Nike, Adidas and other brands and free shipping on all online orders of $99 or more for the Aug. 6-13 period. The 40-percent discounts were on select activewear from Champion and its own ID Ideology active brand. Dick’s Sporting Goods, meanwhile, touted “Buy One, Get One 50% Off” entire stock off its entire stock of Adidas apparel and the same deal on select Under Armour apparel.
Shopping trends in the South, where school bells ring first this month, bear watching most closely. B-T-S shoppers in this region spend on average $594 per child, more than any part of the U.S. For the first time, they will have the ability to make online purchase with Hibbett Sports, which was offering in-store and ecommerce customers 20 percent discounts on all orders above $99 through August 7.
Deloitte found that B-T-S shoppers want in-store technologies and convenience, especially anything that can accelerate the checkout process. The most cited in the firm’s survey: scan-as-you-shop mobile apps (43%), location check-in platforms for personalized deals, coupons or promotions (34%) and QR codes to check for product information and reviews (24%).
And while department stores and specialty clothing stores (-17%) are both forecast to have lower traffic this B-T-S, there is hope for all retailers aiming to grab the attention and wallets of the season’s consumers who are undecided on what channel to shop in. More than half of them (52%) prefer to make purchases from retailers who offer an option to ‘buy online and return to store,’ 52 percent of them are Millenials and 61 percent conduct online research before buying in a physical store.