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In-Store Shopping on the Rise for Back-To-School

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A new survey done by Accenture shows that a majority of parents plan to spend more on their children's back-to-school shopping this year, driven by rising costs or necessity rather than greater spending power.

With incentives like “tax-free days,” the increase in shopping numbers is expected to continue through the holiday season this year. Stores are opting for more excitement and values and it’s anticipated that shoppers will take advantage of these discounts and values and buy items for their children and themselves.

A better back-to-school season is usually a harbinger of a stronger fall/winter shopping season. Retail was burned last year by the government shut-down last October, which discouraged a lot of discretionary spending, but after several months of consumer indifference, shoppers may feel the need to reward themselves.

Deloitte’s Back-To-School survey found that 73% of respondents believe the economy is recovering from recession, with 76% saying their financial situation is better or the same than a year ago.

The National Retail Federation calculated a 2.9% increase in sales during the first half of the year. They predict an almost 4% increase in retail consumer spending for the second half of the year.

The Accenture survey also revealed that about 90% of parents polled plan to do their shopping in the store, though many will  employ “web-rooming” to do comparison shopping. More specifically, about 80% plan to browse on a website, then go to the physical store to make the purchase. The most popular reasons given for web-rooming were to check inventory of the item before going to the store to make the purchase, avoiding shipping costs, and to ask the store to price-match if a lower price was found online.

More than two thirds of the parents surveyed plan to spend between $100 and $500; and 41% expect to spend $500 or more for back-to-school shopping this year. Compared to last year, 52% of the parents said they will spend more on back-to-school shopping than last year; 37% plan to spend the same and only 11% expect to spend less.

Deloitte’s survey found that 85% of the respondents planned on doing their shopping at discount department stores; 38% through online sites; 38% in office supply/tech stores; and 31% planned to shop in traditional department stores.

Both surveys suggest how important it is for stores to have a seamless shopping and buying experience across all platforms.

Managing Director of Accenture’s Global Retail practice, Dave Richards, says, “Since many will be heading to the stores to shop after browsing online to find the best deals and check product availability, it is imperative for retailers to introduce mobile devices, train associates to solve problems and support sales. They also need to add wireless networks to create interactive experiences, and connect in-store shopping experiences with omnichannel capabilities. Retailers have an opportunity to position their stores as the epicenter for product support, which is critical to a brand's customer loyalty."

Another interesting Accenture survey finding: While parents hold the purse strings, kids carry more purchasing power. More than half the parents surveyed indicated that their children influenced their shopping and buying decisions. Another finding showed that a third of the kids will be spending their own money, so retailers need to realize the influence and power this younger generation has and plan accordingly.

While parents may be relaxing the purse strings, a big concern on their part is personal data protection. In Deloitte’s survey, about half of the respondents said they were concerned about protection of their personal data in the store. While a greater percentage are concerned about online shopping security, 44% said they are more likely to shop at a retailer who provides education surrounding the security of their personal data.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers,
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