Back-to-school shoppers headed to brick-and-mortar stores

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Back-to-school shoppers headed to brick-and-mortar stores

By Marianne Wilson - 07/15/2019
Physical stores have the edge when it comes to back-to-school shopping.

Over half of respondents (58%) said they plan to buy (or have already bought) the majority of their items in a store and some online for apparel and footwear, according to global consulting firm BRG. When it comes to school supplies, 57% responded similarly. In fact, 23% of respondents said they will buy or have bought all of their apparel and footwear in a physical store, and 19% said they will buy or have bought all of their supplies in a physical store. For back-to-school shopping, physical stores are critical in driving customer satisfaction, the survey stated.

"Retailers shouldn't take these findings lightly," said Rick Maicki, a managing director in BRG's Retail Performance Improvement practice. "In-store operations need to be as sharp has ever — displays need to be compelling, pricing and promotions must be competitive — as this is one of the critical shopping occasions before the holidays. If retailers can win at back-to-school, they have a good chance at gaining the attention of their shoppers when the holidays roll around."

The survey also found that 88% of respondents said their personal financial situation is the same as or better than last year. About 40% of shoppers expect to spend more on apparel and footwear and supplies for back-to-school compared to last year, so this sets up a good opportunity for retailers.

Key findings from the report include:
• Most consumers plan to do the majority of their back-to-school shopping in physical stores driven by the ability to (1) touch and feel the product, (2) make sure the item fits, and (3) compare items in a store.

• Most consumers plan to complete all back-to-school shopping by the end of July or mid-August. Most consumers will spend from a weekend to two to three weeks to purchase back-to-school apparel and footwear; when it comes to supplies, most consumers will complete shopping in a single day or weekend.

• Amazon, Walmart, Target, Kohl's, and Old Navy are top retailers for apparel and footwear due to impressive sales and promotions, along with everyday low prices.

• Promotions play an important role, with over 60% of consumers stating they will only shop during a back-to-school sale. Only 10% of respondents said promotions have no impact on purchase.

• About half of respondents said they will or already did pre-shop back-to-school online.