Study: Back-to-school shopping just getting started


Back-to-school promotions seem to start earlier and earlier each year. But most consumers aren’t buying the pitch.


That’s one of the findings of a new report by A.T. Kearney in which the majority of consumers surveyed said they planned to do most of their BTS shopping in August and September. (Only 4% of shoppers did any of their shopping as early as July 4.) And in another nod to the "old school" shopper, the study suggests that brick-and-mortar will still make or break back-to-school sales.

“Although online retail sales continue to increase, 57% of our survey respondents plan to make purchases in stores. Therefore, it is more important for retailers to examine every aspect of their in-store shopping experience,” said Joel Alden, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the report


The two main factors that matter most to consumers, the study finds, are competitive prices (91%) and a superior shopping experience in-store, online and via mobile (85%). And in a surprising acknowledgment to new retail technology, 30% more consumers 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% of consumers who have signed up for (or intend to sign up for) mobile payment apps — up from 37% 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,” said 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.”

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