Why You Should Start Your Back to School Shopping Promos ASAPJune 04, 2018
Books close, pencils drop and students release a collective exclamation of joy to welcome the start of summer. Time to kick back and put school out of mind, right? Wrong. More than 7 in 10 consumers start their back to school shopping by early July.
Back to school is the second largest shopping season that impacts 29 million U.S. households. A quarter of the entire U.S. population (ages 3 and older), or 77.1 million individuals, are enrolled in preschool through college.
We will examine when and where consumers do their back to school shopping, how they spend their back to school dollars and how coupons influence their purchase decisions in this article. We include information about both K-12 and college back-to-school shopping.
When does back to school shopping start?
71% of all back to school shopping starts in early July through late August. In general, both K-12 and college back to school shoppers start and finish their shopping in the same time frame.
Parents of K-12 students finished 45% of their back to school shopping in early August of 2017. Just 13% had finished all of their back to school shopping by August 9 to 13, 2017 and 23% had not yet started.
45% of college students had completed their back to school shopping by August 9 to 13, 2017. College shoppers are bigger procrastinators than the younger students—26% had not begun their shopping by August 9 to 13, 2017 while only 12% had gotten it all done by this date range.
Overall, back to school shopping isn’t limited to a narrow window of time. Rather, it has “evolved into a series of mini seasons,” according to market research company The NPD Group, Inc. Data from both the National Retail Federation and Deloitte shows that shopping starts by July and continues through September.
Where do they buy back to school supplies?
Most back to school shopping happens in brick-and-mortar stores. In 2016, 70% of all back to school shopping happened in stores.
Customers cited two reasons that shopping in-store trumps online shopping. First, they want a wide variety of product choices. Secondly, they want to be able to finish other shopping, too.
Just 33% of K-12 back to school shoppers bought their supplies online in 2017 while 41% of all college back to school shoppers planned to complete some or all of their shopping online in 2017.
How do back to school shoppers spend their money?
Shoppers spent $83.6 billion on back to school shopping in 2017. College spending accounted for 64.7% of all back to school shopping in 2017.
The earlier consumers start their back to school shopping, the more they tend to spend. On average, 60% of shoppers who start before August spent an average of $532 on school supplies while the 40% of shoppers who started after August spent an average of $458.
Overall spending for K-12 students was $29.5 billion in 2017, which is 60% increase from the $18.4 billion spent in 2007. The average back to school shopper spent $688, which is up from the $674 average in 2016. The 4 types of school supplies K-12 back to school shoppers in 2017 were:
• clothing & accessories $238.89
• electronics $204.33
• shoes $130.38
• school supplies $114.12
Overall spending for college students was $52.1 billion in 2017, which is a 14% increase from the $45.8 billion spent in 2007. The average college back-to-school shopper spent an average of $970 in 2017, up from the $889 average in 2016. Just 37% of parents/guardians of college students give the students a budget to limit their back-to-school shopping expenditures. The categories that college back to school shoppers spent in 2017 were:
• electronics $229.20
• clothing & accessories $142.90
• food items $134.20
• dorm/apartment furnishings $105.58
• shoes $81.38
• personal care items $81.00
• school supplies $70.08
• gift cards/prepaid cards $68.99
• collegiate gear $56.57
How do coupons factor in to back to school shopping?
Coupons and special promotions are huge drivers in consumer back to school spending.
60% of consumers say they only bought back-to-school items that were on sale/discount while the other 40% say that they buy supplies when it’s most convenient for them regardless of pricing incentives. 41% of both all K-12 back to school shoppers and college shoppers say they are influenced by coupons.
Which channels encourage customers to use coupons/promotions:
• The most-read back to school shopping email subject lines call out rewards opportunities and sales events.
• 30% of all back to school shoppers said mobile coupon apps were their primary source for finding sales.
• 19% of all back to school shoppers said they looked at online deal sites to find coupons.
• 12% of all back to school shoppers rely on newspapers/magazines to find sales.
• 9% of back to school shoppers use newsletters/catalogs to find deals.
• 8% of back to school shoppers use social media to scout out coupons/deals.