A large majority (89%) of back-to-school shoppers are heading to shopping centers and malls, incorporating physical retail for the season even as they use their phones and the internet to shop, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual back-to-school survey. They have their reasons: nearly half (46%) want to be able to “see, touch, or try on the merchandise;” 36% want to “browse/ease of buying specific items;” 35% like the “convenience of one-stop shopping;” and 34% are “avoiding shipping fees.”
Online/offline lines continue to blur: Almost as many (81%) shoppers ICSC surveyed say they’ll use their smartphones in store — 58% to compare prices, 39% to download digital coupons, 38% to check availability/inventory, and 30% to take pictures of items they’re considering. Almost a third (30%) intend to order online but pickup from physical stores. Among those who have, 81% stop in at other stores when they pick up their order, the study found.
Many (40%) also say they’re not going to start shopping for school unless they find out about deals and promotions on offer, the study found, with nearly 90% saying promotions influence how much they spend and what they buy.
Back-to-school shoppers are on the hunt for deals, and their phones and are helping with that. As with other research this year, ICSC found discount stores the top destination for school supplies, but noted more interest in department stores than other studies this year: 69% of back-to-school shoppers are going to those for the season, as well as office supply stores (37%) and department stores (32%).
“Back-to-school is one of the shopping seasons where we really find people looking for specific items at the best price,” ICSC President and CEO Tom McGee said in a statement. “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.”
The average back-to-school shopper, by ICSC’s measure, is expected to spend $353.20. Those with children in grades K-12 expect to spend $309.60 on average, while those buying for college/post-secondary plan to spend $437.80 on average.
Other studies this year have also revealed that kids’ are guiding their parents’ back-to-school spending, and ICSC pinpointed 68% of shoppers who say they tend to spend more when their children are along than when they’re shopping alone.
The ICSC Back-to-School Spending survey was conducted online by Opinion Research Corporation from July 6-9, with the participation of a demographically representative sample of 1,010 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older