Amazon ranked first for back-to-school consumers shopping both early and late in the season — the only retailer to make both lists in a back-to-school survey that brand loyalty research consultancy firm Brand Keys emailed to Retail Dive. That being said, Walmart and Best Buy both appeared on the early shopping list, while their e-commerce sites appeared on the late back-to-school list.
For early shoppers, Amazon and Walmart were followed by Staples, Target and Apple/Best Buy respectively. Late back-to-school shoppers, on the other hand, focused almost exclusively on e-commerce sites, selecting BestBuy.com, Nike and TJ Maxx/Macy.com after Amazon and Walmart.com.
The survey, which assessed more than 8,000 households with school-age children (pre-K to 12th grade), also found that retailers could expect a 6% increase in back-to-school spending, from an average spend of $675 in 2016 to an anticipated $716 this year.
As e-commerce sites become go-to platforms for pretty much every type of shopping, back-to-school appears to be trending in the same direction.
Brand Keys’ survey found that late back-to-school shoppers used e-commerce sites to purchase primarily apparel, books and study aids, which accounted for 59% of 2017’s anticipated average spend.
"While the past few years have proved this finding, this year’s back-to-school marketplace further confirms that Amazon.com has become consumers’ default shopping platform — early or late in the season," said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys.
Despite Amazon’s dominance in yet another category, it seems that many consumers still prefer to do their early back-to-school shopping in stores. To that point, Amazon was the only e-commerce site on Brand Keys’ top five list of early back-to-school retailers, which could be due to the fact that early spending (which accounts for 41% of the average anticipated spend) is focused on supplies like printer cartridges, notebooks, pens and pencils, calculators and electronics.
That’s not to discount the push to digital, though. With mobile an increasingly important part of back-to-school and Gen Z becoming the prime target for back-to-college shopping, digital will only continue to grow. Even in this year’s study, 99% of Brand Keys’ respondents said that they plan on shopping online during both the early and late back-to-school season.
"Consumer purchases have shifted from print to digital and online has been growing every year. It’s the consumers’ shopping default mode," Passikoff said.