Parents, Here’s Exactly When You Should Do Your Back-to-School Shopping

The fall back-to-school season is prime shopping time for families, who are expected to spend a total of $28.1 billion this season, or roughly $529 per student, just for kids ages K-12.

And for retailers, b-t-s is an essential revenue-generating moment. However, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and shifting plans for the school year in various parts of the country, companies are adjusting their playbooks when it comes to sales promotions, according to a recent study by RetailMeNot.

The online coupon aggregator teamed up with Kelton Global to survey more than 200 senior retail marketing leaders about timing for the school shopping season.

They found that the majority of retailers (34%) kicked off their promotions in July, but that doesn’t mean the sales are over. Over one in four retailers said they would begin their biggest back-to-school sales push during the first weekend of August. And another 26% plan to pulse promotions evenly throughout the season.

One reason for delaying some of the promotions is that stores have had less time to prepare after being closed for several weeks due to COVID-19 restrictions. And some product may have been slow to arrive due to disruptions in the supply chain. In the survey, retailers were 16% less likely to say they are ready for the shopping season this year.

However, the good news for consumers is that 65% of brands will offer more promotions during back-to-school shopping this year. And they’re piling on extra incentives, in addition to discounts. For instance, 40% of brands said they will offer more free shipping options. And as contactless payments increase in popularity amid the ongoing pandemic, retailers are 74% more likely to provide curbside pick-up, according to RetailMeNot.

In recent years, Amazon has become the major player in the b-t-s season, and COVID-19 has only heightened its dominance, particularly as more consumers shift to buying online. In order to compete, nearly half of the brands surveyed by RetailMeNot (47%) said they will offer a price match guarantee across all channels this year.

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