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Study: Majority of back-to-school shopping will happen in-store


Consumers are in search of the latest back-to-school deals and experiences — and hitting their local shopping centers to find them.

This was according to the annual “ICSC Back-to-School Spending” survey. The report from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), which was conducted between July 6-July 9, is based on a sample of 1,010 U.S. adults, 18 years of age and older.

This year, 89% of consumers are headed to their local shopping centers and malls to make their school supply purchases. What is at the top of their shopping list? Finding the best deals and promotions.

The average back-to-school shopper is expected to spend $353.20. Parents of children in K-12 could spend $309.60 on average, while those buying for college/post-secondary plan to spend an average of $437.80. Two-fifths (40%) will wait to start back-to-school shopping until they see advertisements or sale prices in stores. Nearly 90% said they are influenced by promotions in terms of the amount they spend and the items they purchase.

“Back-to-school is one of the shopping seasons where we really find people looking for specific items at the best price,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. “Consumers are more informed than ever and research prices and products prior to making a purchase so it isn’t surprising that so many shoppers are waiting for sales and discounts before buying their back-to-school items.”

Discount stores continue to be the most popular venue for back-to-school shoppers (69%), followed by office supply stores (37%). Department stores (32%) will also see strong activity during the back-to-school season.

Digital will play a role as well, this shopping season. A majority of consumers (81%) will utilize their mobile devices while in-store shopping for merchandise. Among this group, 58% will compare prices, 39% will download digital coupons, 38% will check availability/inventory, and 30% will take pictures of items that might be purchased.

When it comes to shopping online, 30% of consumers intend to order items online from retailers with a physical store presence and pick them up in-store. Among shoppers who have already used this click-and-collect method, 81% have made an additional purchase(s) at other stores or establishments when picking up their online order, the study said.

Physical interaction with goods is the top reason for back-to-school shoppers to visit stores. Most important among these shoppers are:

• The “ability to see, touch, or try on the merchandise” (46%)

• The “ability to browse/ease of buying specific items” (36%)

• The “convenience of one-stop shopping” (35%)

• “Avoiding shipping fees” (34%)
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