A Hop, Skip and a Jump in Back-to-School Retail

August 21, 2015 | B2C Retail


Back-to-school retail in the US is typically the second busiest shopping season of the year after the holidays. The Deloitte 2015 Back-to-School survey is in and it cites some potentially gloomy results including a fast-rising trend in households reusing those school supplies socked away in drawers, and spending levels that are flat over 2014.

But Deloitte’s leading retail authority says look before you leap to conclusions when it comes to 2015 back-to-school retail.

Alison Kenney Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail and distribution leader at Deloitte, said there's more to the story than meets the eye. As it becomes easier to make back-to-school buys throughout the year—particularly online—shoppers are spacing out their purchases, and in many cases waiting until school starts before purchasing supplies.

Interestingly, most seasonal back-to-school shopping will occur in a physical store. EMarketer cites these statistics from the Deloitte research, “Nearly nine in 10 respondents with at least one child attending kindergarten to 12th grade this fall said they would buy school supplies in-store only, while eight in 10 planned to head exclusively to brick-and-mortar shops for shoes and more than seven in 10 for backpacks and lunch boxes. About two-thirds intended to make other fashion purchases such as accessories and clothes solely in stores, though more promising percentages would rely on both digital and physical shopping.”

Though shopping in the store, consumers will continue to rely heavily on tech to guide their purchases using store apps for example to navigate to specific areas of the store and scout deals that will keep their spending down.

To jumpstart back-to-school shopping, some 20 US States are now offering a tax-free week or weekend in July and August to motivate shoppers to hit the stores for back-to-school. There are typically caps put on that spending, some as little as $20 for school supplies in Georgia versus the whopping $3500 allowance in Missouri for computers. The tax breaks apply to pencils and pens and other traditional school supplies, as well as footwear, clothing, computers, books and backpacks. For some shoppers the lure of a tax-free bargain may be too much to resist. For others, the shopping is now year-round.

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