Here’s What Parents Say Will Draw Them Into Stores for Back-to-School Shoe Shopping

As schools around the country prepare to welcome students back for in-person learning, parents are filling their shopping carts — real and virtual — with everything kids need to get back in the classroom.

Among the must-have purchases? New sneakers, sandals and boots for students of all ages. And while Americans are undoubtedly more comfortable than ever shopping for shoes online, a majority of families still plan to visit brick-and-mortar stores for their back-to-school buys, according to a new national survey commissioned by the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America.

Among 1,000 parents of school-aged children who plan to purchase footwear for their children this fall, 69% said they expected to shop in-person, while 31% said they would choose e-commerce. A larger share (37%) of parents with at least some college education plan to do their shopping online, while those with a high school eduction or less are far more likely (83%) to choose brick-and-mortar stores.

Even with the dot-com draws of free shipping and convenient delivery, the promise of deals is still enough to lure families into their local mall or shoe retailer. 60% of respondents ranked sales and price as the most important factors influencing their choice to shop in-store, while 28% said selection was their top decider. Rewards and ease of shopping were less influential, drawing 3% and 9% of respondents, respectively.

While they might be bargain-hunting, they also have bigger budgets, with 41% of families expecting to spend more on shoes this year than in 2019. 37% said they plan to spend about the same this year, though with escalating supply chain costs driving up footwear prices at many retailers, they may encounter some sticker shock at checkout. Overall, most families (55%) said they plan to buy two pairs of shoes per child this year, with 25% anticipating spending up to $100 total, 36% planning to spend between $100–150 and 22% budgeting $150 to $200. 9% of parents plan to spend between $200 and 300, while 8% expect to shell out more than $300.

As for the retailers poised to reap the biggest rewards from the back-to-school shopping boom, local chains are still the top choice, with 57% of families choosing stores such as DSW, Famous Footwear, Shoe Carnival and Shoe Show. Big-box retailers like Target and Walmart, meanwhile, were also popular, drawing 31% of respondents, while just 6% said they planned to do their shopping at a department store like Nordstrom.

With Labor Day just a month away, retailers’ back-to-school sales are well underway. At Target, for example, college students who sign up with Target Circle can get deals from Aug. 15 to Aug. 21, with $15 off for every $50 spent on household essentials.

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