Back to school is coming.
This year’s back to school shopping season, though short, will bring wins for parents and retailers. The consulting firm Deloitte released its annual back to school survey. While parents are spending about as much as last year, there is a noticeable shift in where parents are cashing in on sales. For retailers, the early back to school bird gets the worm. Stores that start sales sooner will bring in higher earnings, Deloitte found.
Back to school shopping will total an estimated $27 billion this year, according to Deloitte’s survey. Parents will spend an average of $501 per child on clothes, supplies, computers, and gadgets. But, parents who shop sooner likely will spend more. The survey revealed 60 percent of Americans who shop back to school sales before August will spend about $532. That’s 16 percent higher than parents who wait until closer to the start of school – August or later – to do their shopping. Those later shoppers only spend an average of $458 per student. 71 percent of all back to school spending happens during an eight-week period from July through August.
If you’re a parent who waits until the absolute last minute to finish your back to school shopping, you’re not alone.
Deloitte’s 2017 survey asked parents about their back to school shopping lists. Clothing and accessories take up more of the budget this year – 55 percent of families’ spending. Parents will spend about $200 on clothes and casual shoes. Clothes and shoes for school uniforms will cost parents an estimated $147 per student in 2017. School supplies will cost about $104, 20 percent of parents’ back to school spending. Computers and hardware account for 14 percent of the total spent.
In a victory for traditional retailers, a majority of shoppers – 57 percent – will go in-store to buy back to school items. Most of those shoppers, Deloitte found, will choose mega-chains like Walmart and Target. 21 percent of shoppers will choose the convenience of shopping online. Traditional department stores will see less traffic this year. Only 28 percent of shoppers say they’ll visit traditional department stores – down 54 percent from last year.
There is a large market of shoppers who don’t know where they will shop. Deloitte estimates ‘undecided’ shoppers represent $5.4 billion in back to school spending. For retailers, a strategy to lure the 20 percent of undecided shoppers could pay off.
“This segment is up for grabs but likely to go to retailers that draw customer in early with promotions and digital experiences that make store visits even more attractive, like inventory visibility or buy online/pick up in store,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP.
Back to school is the second-biggest shopping season in the United States. It reaches 29 million households and 53 million children.
Deloitte conducted the survey of 1,200 parents who have at least one child in grades K-12. The survey was conducted from May 31 to June 6.