A.T. Kearney: Back-To-School Sales Could Improve

After conducting a study of adults planning to shop for back-to-school merchandise, A.T. Kearney, a strategy and consulting firm, said that almost 80% of consumers plan to spend the same or more on back-to-school shopping this season versus the 2015 period, despite a 3.4% drop in consumer confidence from this time a year ago.

The study indicated that the two main factors consumers consider when shopping for back-to-school merchandise are competitive prices, with 91% of respondents identifying that as a critical point, and a superior shopping experience in-store, online and via mobile, cited by 85% for its importance. The study also demonstrated the many consumers are adopting the latest retail technology, according to Kearney, as 30% more consumers stated that they are open to adopting mobile shopping apps and personalized promotions while in stores than they were in the 2015 holiday shopping season.

As for timing, despite omnichannel back-to-school promotions starting earlier each year, only 4% of survey respondents did any of their shopping as early as July 4, and those were overwhelmingly likely to be online shoppers, Kearney noted. The majority of consumers surveyed said they planned to do most of their shopping in August and September, and the study suggested brick-and-mortar will still make or break back-to-school sales.

Joel Alden, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the report, said, “Although online retail sales continue to increase, 57% of our survey respondents plan to make purchases in stores. Therefore, it is more important for retailers to examine every aspect of their in-store shopping experience. Additionally, our survey found that 80% of these shoppers are open to mobile shopping apps and personalized promotions while in stores, a significant increase since we last measured this just nine months ago. The question then becomes, can mobile be part of that enhanced, in-store experience?”