Report: Consumers Waiting to Purchase Back-to-School Merchandise
Rising prices and consumers shopping for more immediate needs has disrupted back-to-school shopping season performance, according to research from The NPD Group, which recently merged with Information Resources, Inc. In the first seven weeks of the back-to-school shopping season, U.S. non-school-related general merchandise sales revenue grew 4 percent, NPD found, while school spending fell short of last year’s results.
“Consumers are balancing their return to school, work and social activities, while retaining some pandemic-related behaviors, and prioritizing their purchases accordingly,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry advisor for NPD, in a statement. “Consumers have been more focused on travel and social activities this summer, pushing the 2022 back-to-school shopping peak later."
Portable beverageware and coloring and art supply categories were among the fastest growing school-related categories in the early part of this season, NPD said, demonstrating some attention being paid to school needs. However, the continued strong revenue growth in beauty and the automotive aftermarket illustrate that the majority of the consumers' spending remains focused on other activities. Indeed, another NPD report published earlier this month found that only 26 percent of U.S. consumers had started their back-to-school shopping as of mid-July, and 16 percent said it wasn’t even on their minds yet. What's more, the majority of consumers who are holding off on back-to-school shopping are waiting for sales (41 percent), while others are waiting for school lists or the start of school to see what's needed.
Total Retail's Take: Consumers are not only holding off on back-to-school purchases, they're also delaying paying for the ones they have made. More than one-third of consumers (37 percent) have already or plan to use buy now pay later (BNPL) loans for their back-to-school purchases, according to new research from TransUnion’s retail business. BNPL loans allow consumers to make purchases with deferred or no interest installment loans. This back-to-school shopping trends research was conducted via an online survey of 1,000 adults in July 2022. TransUnion’s analysis also found, however, that 55 percent of consumers expect to spend more on their back-to-school shopping this year, with inflation driving the increase. Consumers also plan on making other adjustments in response to inflation, such as buying fewer and cheaper items. Shifts in spending were more pronounced among students shopping for themselves vs. parents shopping for their children.