Most Parents Will Shop In-Store This Back-to-School Season — Despite Online Boom

For parents who think they’ll have the mall all to themselves this back-to-school shopping season, think again. Despite the growing online shopping trend, most will shop in-store, according to Deloitte’s “2018 Back-to-School Survey,” which polled parents of school-aged children.

There’s a lot at stake for retailers across the board. Household spending on clothing, supplies, computers and electronics for children in grades K-12 is expected to reach nearly $28 billion, noted the survey. Shoppers, it said, are still undecided on where they will spend 20 percent or ($5.5 billion) of their budget — up for grabs between online and brick-and-mortar stores.

“The amount people plan to spend and tendency to shop in physical stores for back-to-school are consistent with last year, but retailers need to act fast for that $5.5 billion wild card,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and leader of U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution. “In just one year, previously undecided dollars have shifted dramatically by product category.”

When it comes to the digital shopping experience, Deloitte noted online retailers will need to step up their game to continue to entice consumers. The survey found customers are mainly using their devices to access websites, look for prices and collect coupons and discounts instead of making purchases, signaling that shoppers are looking for the next innovation in retail technology.

For retailers who want to grab their share of the back-to-school pie, the window to attract shoppers is closing. According to the survey, about two-thirds of shoppers plan to being their shopping before August, spending about $100 more than those who get a later start. This presents an opportunity for retailers to focus their promotions from mid-July to mid-August, when $18 billion is estimated to be spent.

Check out the study’s highlights below to see how your family’s spending plans fit into the back-to-school picture.

Store Power

In-store shopping comes out the winner this season. Parents with students in grades K-12 expect to spend $510 per household, with the average in-store spend at $292, nearly double the online counterpart of $115 and accounting for nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of their spending.

Bargain Hunters

For the third year, mass merchants retain their place as the most popular type of retailer, drawing 83 percent of respondents. Other price-based retailers like dollar (38 percent), online-only (36 percent) and off-price stores (32 percent) follow, continuing to squeeze more traditional retailers out of the higher ranks. People shopping at department stores are expected to spend $390, while $338 of their budget will go to fast-fashion retailers. Those buying clothing and accessories at mass merchants expect to spend an average of $234 for that category.

Kid Power

Kids are likely to influence over $21 billion in spending, representing 75 percent of total spend.

Digital Dollars

The portion of shoppers using computers for shopping fell 10 percent in two years from 59 percent in 2016 to 49 percent this season. Mobile is not picking up the slack, as smartphone usage saw only a meager increase over the same period, from 51 percent to 53 percent.

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