Consumer habit or behavior is very important in any business as consumers are the life of any business. To be successful in any business it is essential to know who buys a product, why they buy it, when they buy it and how they use it. Therefore, to attract consumers of Back-To-School (BTS) season, retailers are trying hard to win the heart of Generation Z consumers. The BTS season in the United States is an important season for retailers, second only to Christmas, generally, the back-to-school season lasts from mid-July to early or mid-September.
Figure 1: The US retailers are seeing a strong Back to School sales this year
A report by market research group NPD has explored school supplies buying habits in the US, which found that the timing of BTS shopping and what consumers are focusing their spending on has become less consistent and less predictable in recent years.
While two-thirds of consumers planned to start their BTS buying the same time as last year, 28% said they aimed to start earlier. More than 30% said they started their 2016 shopping in August. However, 58% said they commenced purchasing before August with nearly a third completing it before August. A third of shoppers deferred buying until September or later, with some respondents making final purchases well into the school year. Almost 60% of consumers indicated that they only bought BTS items on sale but timing was also important.
NPD Chief Industry Analyst Marshal Cohen explained, “The scope of the back-to-school shopping season has expanded due to the endless shopping opportunities, both in-store and online, enabling consumers to spread their spending out and address needs as they arise.”
Carrie Rocha, founder of Pocket Your Dollars, a money-saving website, said, “Don’t wait until the last minute. It’s true that some retailer will probably have a $10 backpack in late August, but they’re cheap. They’re not the ones you want”.
The consumers can buy earlier or later their BTS items, but it is notable that consumer is spending more on BTS items, increasing by 14% since 2012.
Industry groups say in BTS season, the second biggest shopping season for retailers, last year sales would reach $75.8 billion, the National Retail Federation projected. This year, Back-to-School clothing shoppers plan to spend about $267 on new apparel, which is up about 10 percent to 16 percent from responses in 2013 ($231) and 2014 ($243).
Parents are bringing their kids in-store for the large majority of their clothes shopping, as the Monitor data shows 73 percent intend to shop in-store. Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for the NPD Group, pointed out a reason for this in-store preference. He said, “You might think online shopping would be higher, but much of Back-to-School is done with family. And kids say, ‘I want Mom’s wallet with me’”.
Parents and students have the entire summer to consider and purchase BTS items, so retailers need to get their message in front of possible customers during the period. Already retailers have invested huge dollars to cater best BTS items for the consumer. A report from RetailMeNot namely “2017 Retailer and Consumer Back-to-School Insights Guide,” recently explored that 85% plan to invest more in their back-to-school marketing efforts this year compared to 2016.
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