It’s been nearly a year-and-a-half since schools closed across the country. While there are still many unknowns when it comes to the pandemic, families are preparing for a return to school that resembles some sense of normalcy. As we know, the start of the school year means one of the busiest times for retailers.
As students prepare to head back into the classroom, we surveyed over 23,000 consumers about their back-to-school shopping plans to help guide brands and retailers after months of pandemic-related challenges.
Omnichannel is Here to Stay
The explosion of online shopping during the pandemic might have forever changed how Americans buy their goods. Even as the majority (92 percent) of back-to-school shoppers head into physical retail, 85 percent plan to supplement these trips with their mobile devices for everything from comparing prices to making purchases in the aisle. This hybrid shopping experience means that retailers need to highlight what a shopper sees in-store with readily available, interactive and engaging mobile content. This can mean utilizing QR codes to present deeper product information, size guides, lookbooks, nutritional facts, recipes, or additional deals and savings information. Content that can be accessed easily through a click of a button at the point of discovery can drive purchases and build loyalty.
Ready to Spend
Consumers are taking on back-to-school shopping with strong budgets this year: 42 percent reported they plan to spend between $101-$300 on items. For more than half of these consumers, these budgets are high to catch up on supplies after last year’s decreased spending (55 percent). About one-third of respondents bumped up their budgets due to the need for new supplies (30 percent), and another third did so because they’re back to pre-pandemic shopping habits (30 percent). Where will they be spending this extra cash? Big-box retail wins again. Of the 92 percent of consumers who plan to do their back-to-school shopping in-store, nearly all (92 percent) will do so at big-box stores. Big-box retailers and their competitors should prepare for this surge in foot traffic by making sure products are in stock and shelves are organized.
Safety Supplies Still Matter to Shoppers
To make up for a year spent in pajamas, more than half of consumers (60 percent) plan to spend most of their back-to-school budgets on apparel, followed by school supplies (24 percent), technology (10 percent), dorm furnishings (4 percent), and books (3 percent). In addition to the necessities, health and safety materials will also be sought out by consumers. Almost all shoppers (90 percent) plan to add COVID-19 precautionary supplies to their carts, whether it’s hand sanitizer (79 percent), cleaning wipes (71 percent), masks (61 percent), paper products (55 percent), or disposable cutlery for lunchtime (21 percent). By ensuring the products customers need for a smooth return to the classroom are readily available, retailers can lessen families’ stress, increase brand loyalty, and win over the shoppers who are eager to spend.
Americans are gearing up for whatever this school year may bring. To best support consumers during this critical shopping moment, retailers must continue omnichannel efforts, keep shelves stocked to support bigger budgets, and pay attention to what consumers are looking for in this unique back-to-school season.
Dave Fisch is the general manager of Shopkick, a Trax company, and leading shopping rewards app, bringing moments of joy to everyday shopping — both online and offline.
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Dave Fisch is the General Manager of Shopkick, a Trax company, and a leading shopping rewards app, bringing moments of joy to everyday shopping - both on- and off-line. For brands and retailers, Shopkick provides high consumer engagement along the entire path to purchase. The company’s unique pay for performance model has been proven to deliver high ROI, driving incremental traffic, product engagement, and sales. Some of its leading brand and retail partners include Auntie Anne's, Barilla, Brighton, eBay, GE, Kellogg's, TJ Maxx, Unilever, among others.
Shopkick is available for free on iPhone from the App Store and for Android from Google Play. For more information, please visit www.shopkick.com.