A study from market research firm Mintel indicates that 52% of parents plan to spend more on back-to-school shopping this year versus 2015, with a mere 4% of parents planning to spend less.
Although spending intentions are up, the overall back-to-school market, which spans elementary school through college, remains stagnant, Mintell noted. In fact, planned spending, which hovered between $73 billion to $76 billion annually from 2010 to 2014, actually dropped to an estimated $68 billion in 2015, Mintel said.
As for spending targets, 66% of parents surveyed said they expect their top back-to-school expenditure to be clothing. In contrast, only 8% of parents expect to spend most of their money on electronics tied with school supplies, a product category in which a large proportion of products are relatively low cost. Footware actually rates higher, with 11% of parents saying that they expect to spend the most in that segment of the market.
When considering factors that influence back-to-school shopping decisions, recommendations by schools are most influential with 43% of parents ranking them as one of their top three sources for direction, up from 32% in 2015. Familiarity with products or brands influences 42% of shoppers. The influence of coupons slipped this year, with 36% of parents citing them as important to purchase decisions versus 43% a year ago.
Mintel research demonstrates that parents are interested in a greater variety of delivery options in order to streamline the school-related shopping experience, with 48% of back-to-school shoppers seeking greater availability of free shipping for online purchases and 20% interested in home delivery for items purchased in store. Other highly desired improvements back-to-school shopping parents would like to encounter include a faster checkout process and larger product selection, both cited by 40% of survey respondents.
“Retailers can ease the back-to-school process by promoting digital tools such as shopping registries and apps that provide schools’ recommended supply lists, which will help streamline the shopping experience,” said Ali Lipson, Mindel director of retail and apparel, technology and automotive reports.