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BizReport : Advertising archives : July 12, 2018

Forecast: In-store key for BTS shoppers

While many parents will be researching back to school (BTS) purchases online this summer the bulk of BTS purchases will be made in-store. That is a key takeaway from a new Deloitte forecast which suggests that shoppers will spend $28 billion on BTS goods this year.

by Kristina Knight

That spend breaks down to about $510 spent per family between July and September. Just over half ($292 per family) will be spent in-store, with about $115 spent online. That leaves about one-quarter of the total spend, or $5.5 billion, up for grabs. It could go to online merchants or it could go back to physical stores, depending on where parents are influenced to put those dollars.

"The amount people plan to spend and tendency to shop in physical stores for back-to-school are consistent with last year, but retailers need to act fast for that $5.5 billion wild card," said Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and U.S. Retail, Wholesale and Distribution leader. "In just one year, previously undecided dollars have shifted dramatically by product category. For example, in 2017, 30 percent of people said they hadn't decided if they would purchase computers online or in-store and that number shrunk to 20 percent this year, most of it going online. In electronics, undecided spending dropped 10 percentage points, moving primarily into the stores."

How can merchants and retail brands begin influencing parents for these BTS dollars? Nearly half of parents (49%) say they'll use their desktop or laptop to shop, 53% report they plan to use a mobile device. This means ecommerce content needs to be optimized for computer and mobile screens, and possibly optimized for social sites like Facebook and Instagram, where many parents turn for information.

And, don't forget the in-store experience because more than 80% of BTS shoppers say they'll make their buys at mass merchants - malls, big box stores, and retail outlets as they search for the best pricing.

"Back-to-school shopping tends to be price-focused as parents look for promotions and mass merchants for the best deals," added Sides. "But when we look below the surface, we notice several distinctions between high and low-income households and the way people shop for specific items like clothing, technology, and supplies. The potential lesson for retailers is that back-to-school may require them to do more than compete on price alone or try to sell across all categories. Survey results show it may be about delivering the best product or experience to customers in specific categories."

The full Deloitte dataset can be found here.

Tags: advertising, back to school spending, BTS spending, Deloitte, ecommerce, retail trends

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