The study found that in aggregate, consumers plan to spend more than last year—almost 80 percent say they'll spend the same or more, and nearly half of the total sample expect to spend more. The outlook on how and where they'll spend their back-to-school wallet remains a fairly traditional one: to start with, despite omnichannel back-to-school promotions starting earlier and earlier each year, only 4 percent of shoppers did any of their shopping as early as July 4th, and those were overwhelmingly likely to be online shoppers. Rather, the majority of consumers surveyed said they planned to do most of their shopping in August and September. Also tipping its hat to the "old school" shopper, the study surmises that brick-and-mortar will still make or break back-to-school sales.
The two main factors that matter most to consumers, the study finds, are competitive prices (91 percent) and a superior shopping experience in-store, online and via mobile (85 percent). And in a surprising acknowledgment to new retail technology, 30 percent more consumers are are open to adopting mobile shopping apps and personalized promotions while in stores than were in the 2015 holiday shopping season. Retailers have been slow to engage these tools, along with other new technologies, in light of the last several years of weak back-to-school sales—but the 61 percent of consumers who have signed up for (or intend to sign up for) mobile payment apps—up from 37 percent during the 2015 holiday season—should be enough to call retailers into action.
"The first time we ran this particular study was when we were approaching the 2015 holiday shopping season, and it's been remarkable to see the changes between those survey results and these in nine or so months," remarked Joel Alden. "But brick-and-mortar plays a far larger role in back-to-school shopping than in holiday shopping. Retailers should be poised to take advantage of the increased foot traffic they'll gain in the upcoming shopping season, by making best use of in-store offers, mobile and omnichannel, that can direct shoppers and increase their basket size. Overall, the back-to-school season should be good news for retailers who have been doing their omnichannel homework; and perhaps a wakeup call to those who have been reluctant to make these investments."
About the Study
A.T. Kearney conducted the Back-to-School Consumer Shopping Survey among 1,500 U.S. adults (18+) who intend to make back-to-school purchases in 2016. The authors structured the survey questions to measure the respondents' expectations for this year's back-to-school shopping season. Responses were weighted to normalize the aggregate sample to household income and age distributions of the overall population in the U.S. A.T. Kearney conducted the survey between July 8 and 12, 2016.
About A.T. Kearney
A.T. Kearney is a leading global management consulting firm with offices in more than 40 countries. Since 1926, we have been trusted advisors to the world's foremost organizations. A.T. Kearney is a partner-owned firm, committed to helping clients achieve immediate impact and growing advantage on their most mission-critical issues. For more information, visit www.atkearney.com.
Contact: Jim Brown
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SOURCE A.T. Kearney