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Survey: Back-to-school shoppers go back to stores

shopping for school supplies
The physical store is a popular back-to-school shopping destination.

Back-to-school shopping is reaching its peak as large numbers of consumers visit brick-and-mortar locations.

According to the new Sensormatic Solutions 2022 Back-to-School Shopper Sentiment Survey, over three-quarters (76%) of respondents shared that they plan to do their shopping in stores this year. The survey also indicates that most of the season’s in-store shopping is taking place now or in the next few weeks.

[Read more: Deloitte: Back-to-school spending to hit new high as prices rise; stores to rebound]

Regionally, Sensormatic analysis indicates peak in-store back-to-school shopping will occur during the following time periods:

  • August 7 to 20 in the Midwest.
  • August 14 to September 3 in the Northeast.
  • July 31 to August 13 in the South.
  • July 31 to August 20 in the West.

Other findings include:

  • More than eight in 10 (83%) of those surveyed cited price as the most important factor when shopping in stores.
  • One-quarter (24%) of respondents cited in-store promotions as a compelling factor in back-to-school shopping decisions.
  • More than one in five (22%) respondents indicated that buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS)-specific discounts encouraged them to use the option. More than half (54%) of respondents who use BOPIS methods have bought other goods unrelated to their original order when picking up their items.

Sustainability remains important for back-to-school shoppers
The survey also reveals that sustainability continues to sit at the top of shoppers’ minds this back-to-school season. More than three in four (77%) respondents said sustainability initiatives will play at least a modest role in their back-to-school shopping choices this year. Sensormatic reports that many respondents even said that they will only shop with retailers that engage in sustainable practices.

The 77% of respondents who said sustainability initiatives will influence their back-to-school shopping choices also said that they plan to reuse as many of last year’s purchases as possible, and 70% said they plan to do at least some shopping at secondhand stores.

These findings align with previous Sensormatic research on consumer sentiments regarding sustainability, which found that over 70% of surveyed consumers would change their shopping habits if learning a brand was not operating sustainably, despite cost being the most-cited barrier to sustainable shopping (55%).

[Read more: How important is sustainability to apparel shoppers?]

“Brick-and-mortar retailers offer shoppers an immediacy online sellers can never match,” head of global marketing, Sensormatic, said in a corporate blog post. “Pairing that advantage with well-executed buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) programs will give retailers a leg up as we near the first day of school. As such, it will be crucial that retailers can offer seamless, reliable BOPIS experiences for those shoppers who want the convenience of online ordering and the immediacy of in-store shopping. Brick-and-mortar retailers may also want to consider incentivizing BOPIS purchases with targeted promotions. And retailers who invest in item-level inventory solutions will be ahead of the curve as we move through August.”

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