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Back to School, Back to Revenue

The second biggest shopping season of the year is upon us, and it’s time for retailers to get ready

It might sound surprising, but it’s true: back to school (BTS) is the second biggest shopping season of the year, coming right after the holiday season. Parents everywhere are ready to make sure their kids have all they need, and in total BTS spend this year is expected to reach a staggering $27.5B. According to a Deloitte study, 49% of it will happen in August, with the majority coming early in the month, and 53% of BTS shoppers start shopping for school items three weeks to a month before the school year starts. All of this means retailers have an opportunity to cash-in in one of the busiest, most rentable times of the year. But how do consumers actually buy during this time?

In-store vs Online

In general, shoppers are expected to spend more than double in-store compared to online (57% vs 23%). In-store, the average spent is expected to be around $292, while the online one should reach around $115. For online retailers, this is still one third of the cake – aka, a really big slice. Online is still, of course, extremely important.

For one, online continues to be an important channel in the customer journey: 56% of customers research online before purchasing products in the physical store (Deloitte).

Secondly, the Deloitte survey found that 20% of BTS households were undecided about how they will be shopping, which represents a $5.5B opportunity that online retailers can capitalize on it if they play their cards right.

When it comes to online shopping, more BTS shoppers (53%) plan to use their mobile device than their desktop for things like accessing websites, looking at prices, and collecting coupons and discounts. However, BTS shoppers are more likely to make online purchases on desktop (53%) than on mobile (46%). This online presence gives online retailers a huge opportunity for business and to reach potential new customers.

A Need for Alignment

What does all of this mean? It means that retailers need to have a holistic advertising plan as customers expect the online and in-store shopping experience to be aligned and seamless. Only through this can one fully explore the potential of the season – or any season, really.