Why Price Might Be The Most Important Factor For Brands & Retailers This Back-To-School Season

When it comes to back-to-school shopping, price matters.

A new survey, conducted on behalf of cash-back Web platform Ebates, has found that cost is often the deciding factor for parents when it comes to back-to-school shopping.

Specifically, 55 percent of Americans surveyed said price was the most influential factor in their b-t-s purchases compared with just 20 percent who selected product quality as the most influential factor.

And when it comes to the most important items on their list, teens and their parents agreed that school supplies ranked No. 1.

The study also found that 38 percent of parents expect to spend between $250-$500 this year on back-to-school shopping and anticipate that the majority of this money will be spent on name-brand clothing, even though these are the items that they least look forward to purchasing.

“Our annual back-to-school survey shows that, like most years, parents will need to find the delicate balance between the things their teens want and the things they need,” said Ebates CEO Kevin Johnson.

The ‘Stock-Up’ Factor

As the importance of price becomes increasingly apparent, brands and retailers may be weary of the impact of heavy promotions and price cuts on their margins. The latest data from the National Retail Federation may offer some solace.

The NRF last week announced that its annual survey, conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, found that total back-to-school spending for K-12 and college is expected to reach $75.8 billion in 2016, an 11 percent rise from last year’s $68 billion.

According to the NRF, the current b-t-s cycle is on a “stock up” cycle rather than a “make do” cycle, meaning that “the average family is expected to spend more freely on school and college supplies this year.”

Still, there is a chance that consumers who are stocking up could be even more inclined to spend less on individual products.

“Families are still looking for bargains, but there are signs that they are less worried about the economy than in the past,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Heading into the second half of the year, we are optimistic that overall economic growth and consumer spending will continue to improve as they did in the first two quarters of the year. We fully expect retailers to be aggressive with offering great deals both in stores and online for back to school shoppers. And retailers will keep a close eye on inventory levels as families spread out their shopping throughout the summer.”

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