July 24, 2017
Summer vacation may still be in full swing, but fall is already on the minds of parents and students across the country: back-to-school and back-to-college shopping is the second biggest retail season, and forecasts are predicting record-breaking spending levels in 2017.
According to survey results from the National Retail Federation, total combined spending for back-to-school and back-to-college shoppers is predicted to reach $83.6 billion in 2017—an increase of 10% over last year. In fact, it will be the second 10% increase in two years, as the market rides a wave of strong consumer confidence. As a result of this trend, back-to-school spending is expected to come close to the $30.3 billion record set in 2012, while back-to-college spending will soar to an all-time high of $54.1 billion.
The data has big implications for ecommerce retailers, as revealed by a closer look at how, where and when consumers plan to spend their budgets.
While most families plan to visit a variety of retailers, almost half of the survey respondents (44% of back-to-college and 45% of back-to-school shoppers) plan to do at least some portion of their shopping online. Options for shipping will also influence purchasing decisions, as a staggering 90% of shoppers plan to take advantage of free shipping offers while stocking up and 50% plan to buy online but pick-up in store. Whether or not a brand meets consumers’ expectations for convenient and cost effective shipping options will undoubtedly play a role in many customer’s purchasing decisions.
Responses also showed that the shopping season is beginning earlier in the summer: while the most popular time to start acquiring supplies is three to four weeks before school, this year saw a 5% increase in consumers who plan to begin two months or more ahead of time.
Which is to say: the season is upon us! If you haven’t already crafted a strategy around back-to-school and back-to-college shopping crowds, now is the time. Don’t miss the opportunity to turn school season shoppers into loyal customers by leveraging personalization. By delivering a meaningful experience for each one as they ready their families for the school year, you can build relationships that will compel customers to return in 2018, or year-round.