Parents’ Top Stores & Websites For Back-To-School Shopping

Target
Fall '15 flats from Target's private labels Mad Love, Merona and Mossimo.
courtesy of company

As part of its annual “Back-to-School” spending report card, New York-based consulting firm Brand Keys has identified the most popular destinations this season for parents stocking up on clothing and supplies.

Among the top 10 brick-and-mortar stores, Walgreens and Sears entered the lineup this year, and Target surpassed longtime favorite Walmart as the No. 1 choice. “It would appear [Target’s] return to a ‘cheap chic’ positioning is working,” Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys’ founder and president, said in a statement.

Here’s the full ranking of retailers:

1. Target
2. Walmart
3. Macy’s
4. CVS/Walgreens
5. Best Buy
6. TJ Maxx
7. Staples
8. Foot Locker
9. Sears
10. Apple stores

Among e-tailers, Target.com also made a big leap to the No. 3 spot from its No. 10 rating last year. Nike.com also rose in the ranking, another indication that the brand is on a winning streak. Other e-commerce companies were not so lucky: Overstock.com dropped to the bottom of Brand Keys’ back-to-school list, and eBay fell off this year altogether.

Here’s the full ranking of e-tail sites:

1. Amazon.com
2. Walmart.com
3. Target.com
4. Kohls.com
5. Macys.com
6. Zappos.com
7. Nike.com
8. Gap.com
9. Bestbuy.com
10. Overstock.com

Overall, Brand Keys found that consumers plan to visit a wide range of retail destinations this season, with the vast majority (99 percent) targeting discount stores. While online merchants got 95 percent of the vote, specialty-apparel retailers and department stores saw the largest jump in interest from parents — both registered a 20 percent increase.

“Value, of course, isn’t just about pricing, it’s about brand, brand differentiation and brand engagement,” said Passikoff. “Retailers that can emotionally engage consumers are seen as surrogates for added value, and those will be the ones that benefit most. Consumers not only believe that, they behave that way in the marketplace. That’s a fundamental lesson all back-to-school retailers need to learn.”

Several recent predictions about the fall back-to-school selling season suggest that overall buying will be flat this year and that many parents are putting off making purchases until later in the year.