By Susan Viamari
Here come the teachers, here come the books. Summer has flown by as usual, and parents are getting geared up to send the kids back to school. Even though the back-to-school season is said to start earlier every year (anyone start seeing ads in June?), many families haven’t started their shopping yet. What can manufacturers and retailers expect from back-to-school shoppers over the next few weeks? More diligence and planning, to start.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), households with children in grades K-12 plan to spend approximately five percent less this year on back-to-school items, including supplies, apparel and electronics ($630.36 this year versus $669.28 last year). IRI’s recent Back-to-School survey clearly demonstrates that pre-planning will play a key role in helping consumers determine exactly where to shop, and prioritizing will come into play when deciding which items to buy.
The survey shows that almost half of consumers (45 percent) will rely more heavily this year on making specific lists before they leave the house. This is even higher (50 percent) among households earning less than $55,000 annually.
Consumers are also stepping up other money-saving strategies:
- 40 percent of consumers are re-using more items from last year’s school supply basket
- 39 percent are doing more prioritizing of back-to-school purchases
- 33 percent are sharing more school supplies among siblings/relatives
For companies to succeed during this back-to-school shopping season, reaching out directly to consumers is essential, and price and value must play a central part in that communication. Almost half of shoppers plan to use more coupons/loyalty card discounts (47 percent) this year than they did last year; 46 percent will rely more on store ads and circulars to identify which stores are offering the lowest price on needed items; and 45 percent will make their brand selections based on deals, specials and promotions more for this year’s back-to-school shopping compared to last year.
Private label solutions and the Internet will also play in important role in back-to-school shopping this year. Thirty-nine percent of consumers plan save money by buying more private label school supplies this year, and 38 percent plan to rely more heavily on the Internet to find back-to-school deals.
As mentioned in eMarketer, much of the early back-to-school shopping happens online, with online back-to-school sales generally peaking sooner than in-store sales. But, many back-to-school shoppers are actually more last minute with their purchases, with over 30 percent planning to shop one to two weeks before school begins, up from 25 percent last year.
This means that these remaining few weeks and even the few days leading up to the start of school are a prime opportunity for manufacturers and brick and mortar retailers to capture consumers’ attention and win a coveted spot in the backpack.
To learn more about U.S. consumers’ financial sentiment, read our latest MarketPulse survey results here.