Practicality Will Determine if Brick or Click is the 2017 Back-to-School Leader, Reports NPD


“Marketers must appeal to the back-to-school shopper’s sensible side and understand their spending priorities,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc.

Port Washington, NY, July 17, 2017 — The back-to-school season is the second most important time in the retail calendar for many industries, behind the holiday season. Practical decisions related to factors like price, convenience, and product quality are paramount when it comes to where and how consumers do their back-to-school shopping, whether in-store or online, according to the new Back-to-School Report from leading global information company The NPD Group.

More than 70 percent of last year’s back-to-school purchases were made in stores. Looking across the 14 industries included in the NPD study, in-store purchases varied from a low of 61 percent for sports equipment to a high of 78 percent for school supplies. The most important benefits of in-store shopping identified by consumers, regardless of the category shopped for, point to practical thinking – the ability to get their other shopping done and having a wide selection of brands/products from which to choose. The go-to retailers for back-to-school purchases were mass merchants like Target and Walmart.

Best/lowest prices, sales/discounts/promotions, and wide product selection are top considerations when deciding where to back-to-school shop – for some key categories, one-stop shopping, and trusted brand availability enter into the top three. Store displays and word-of-mouth are among the top ways consumers research and learn about where to go or what to buy when shopping for most back-to-school categories. Free shipping was identified as one of the most important benefits of online shopping, which represented 21 percent of 2016 back-to-school purchases, on average.

“Back-to-school shopping is about satisfying a list of needs and the retailer or product that delivers value and ease in doing so will ring the sale,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “Brick-and-mortar retail has been challenged this past year and overall online growth, while still strong, has begun to show signs of slowing….

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