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Survey: Back-to-school shopping will be done in physical stores


When it comes to back-to-school shopping, kids have all the power – and they strongly prefer shopping in-store. A recent study by Citi Retail Services revealed that kids wield extraordinary power over back-to-school purchase decisions, and those decisions include shopping for goods in physical stores.

Surveyed parents indicated that nearly half (47%) of shopping decisions are being left completely up to their child. Likewise, 70% of parents also said that they have increased the percentage of purchase decisions they leave completely up to their child.

The survey of 1,000 U.S. parents of children in grades 1-12 also showed that when it comes to Generation Z, 84% of parents believe their child prefers to shop in a physical store, compared to just 16% who feel they prefer online shopping. This underscores the importance that retailers should be placing on the in-store experience for this key shopping moment.

Parents believe the main reasons behind this in-store trend include that their children enjoy the visit to physical stores (59%), like being able to try on or test items they want (59%) and prefer to choose custom types of products, such as color or size (58%).

“As we approach the busy back-to-school shopping period, retailers should look to ensure their efforts are not just focused on parents, but also their children, who are increasingly being handed decision-making power,” said Leslie McNamara, managing director, business and market development at Citi Retail Services.

“Somewhat surprisingly, parents believe their Generation Z children are more likely to want to shop in-store for back-to-school, suggesting that the ability to physically browse and purchase goods in person is still a strong attraction for younger shoppers, who are in many cases dictating purchase decisions,” said McNamara.

Despite the growth of online and mobile shopping, the survey also showed that more than three in four parents (76%) prefer to do their back-to-school shopping in a physical store, in part to spend more time with their children. This compares to the less than half of parents that would shop in-store for end-of-year holidays (49%), Mother’s Day or Father’s Day (42%), or Black Friday (41%), demonstrating the unique significance of back-to-school shopping within families.

According to the survey, parents also consider in-store shopping to be more budget friendly, with 69% more likely to keep to their budget when they shop primarily in a physical store, compared to less than a third online (31%). Parents identified some of the key advantages of shopping in-store for back-to-school to be the ability to evaluate items in real-life (65%), the option to receive items immediately (64%), and the opportunity to spend time with their child (48%).

To encourage more in-store back-to-school shopping, the study found that retailers should focus on paying attention to what parents believe will make them more likely to shop in a physical store next year, such as offering more in-store rewards or incentives (57%), more hands-on product displays (53%) and better in-store technology (32%).
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