Back-to-school (“BTS”) shopping may not heat up until July, but 5% of shoppers have already started by April and another 7% plan to start before June, according to verified online buyers’ surveyed by Bizrate Insights, a division of marketing solutions firm Connexity. Over half of shoppers will kick off BTS shopping between late July and early August, with early August being the most popular time to begin — nearly one-third of all BTS shoppers start then.
“Retailers should be ready to support shoppers across channels by the end of June. Product availability, price and coupons are important, but be sure to also include indicators of quality, such as ratings, reviews and guarantees,” says Hayley Silver, VP of Bizrate Insights (pictured top left).
Majority Plans to Spend Less Than Last Year, But Prioritize Quality over Price
About 62% of households plan to spend less this year than last year on back-to-school with the average household planning to spend about $606 this year. For households with college-age students, that number jumps to $1,086. When broken down by gender, male shoppers plan to spend more on BTS items, particularly those shopping for school-age children. However, nearly half (49%) of all shoppers agree that quality is more important than price.
Brand Loyalty, Store Ratings, and Children’s Preferences Are Factors
While many back-to-school shoppers prioritize finding the right products at the right price, brand loyalty is still a factor — 30% of BTS shoppers say it affects their decision to buy. Ratings and reviews also matter to BTS shoppers: one-fourth are influenced by store ratings.
When you break down the BTS shoppers who say their children’s preferences influence their decisions, the effect increases as the children get older — from 49% for parents of preschool children up to 65% for high school parents.
Mobile & Omni-channel
This year in-store use of mobile devices will play a big role in back-to-school shopping. Here are the top ways BTS shoppers will use mobile for back-to-school shopping, online and in-store:
• 69% to research products
• 48% to buy products
• 41% to price compare in-store
• 37% to look for coupons in-store
Women are far more likely to use their mobile devices to look for coupons.
Methodology: Bizrate Insights’ Back-to-School Shopping study is based on 3,536 online buyers in the US and Canada who reported that they plan to back-to-school shop for a child (Pre-K through college) and/or for themselves for the 2016-17 school year. The data was collected between February 18 – 24th, 2016, via an online survey presented immediately after completing a purchase at one of over 5,000 online retailers in the US network of the Bizrate customer feedback program.