According to consulting firm Deloitte, 2019 back-to-school spending should come in flat to slightly higher versus last year, likely up about 1.8%, with gains largely occurring online.
Deloitte expects total back-to-school seasonal spending to reach $27.8 billion, or $519 per student versus $510 in 2018. Households plan to spend 56% of their budget in-store and 29% online, with the remaining 15% up for grabs with undecided shoppers. Online back-to-school sales have grown proportionately from 22% to 29% since 2016. The company’s research indicates that mobile use should increase by seven percentage points in the season year over year, while it suggests desktop/laptop and social sales may slip.
The company projects an $800 million or 29% gain in the electronic gadgets category, focused online versus in store, as compared to the season in 2018 but a $600 million or 16% decline in the computers and hardware segment.
Price will drive back-to-school sales, Deloitte insisted, with top reasons to purchase coming in as sales/discounts, at 69%, and competitive prices, at 57%. Mass merchants will get the most shopping looks, with 88% of consumers planning to visit, followed by web-only, dollar store, specialty and off-price retailers.
Deloitte added that 60% of shoppers will likely begin back-to-school shopping four to six weeks before school starts, with early shoppers planning to spend less than very early or late starters. Peak shopping should occur in late July and early August, accounting for 62%, or $17.3 billion of all spending.