With Back to School spending growing by over 50% in the last decade, primarily due to an increase in electronics spending, Back to School is becoming an increasingly important sales period and online shopping is having a greater influence each year. As many parents have to budget and spread their spend over more than one payday, the Back to School shopping period is extending.
The start of the new school year varies globally. For Europe, the US and Asia the season runs from late June to early September, though in other places Back to School sales follow on directly from the Christmas holiday peak.
Schools and colleges prescribe many of the purchases, sending out lists at least a month before term starts and their requirements are increasing. Parents pay for most purchases, but children influence 50% of spend. Increasingly students are making a contribution to college spending, so there are several influencers involved in the Back to School purchase process and decisions.
In store still prevails over online, outside of tech, but the gap is closing. Students shop online more than their parents, although the preferred channel varies by category. This means research and sharing of content are on the increase and retailers need to provide social shareable content to influence the purchase choice, as well as closing the sale.
The key categories are clothing, accessories and electronics, followed by shoes and school supplies. Male students spend far more on tech than female students; female students spend more on furnishings for their rooms. Clothing spend levels are remarkably similar between the sexes.
As always retail is detail.
Read our guide, ‘10 ways for online retailers to make next year’s Back to School sales even better’ to find out how e-commerce and blended retailers can identify the marginal gains available and plan now, to get the most sales benefit from Back to School next time around.
Back to school photo by Flickr user hjl