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Back to School Shopping - US - January 2019

"The BTS (back-to-school) shopping season is the second largest retail sales period of the year behind the winter holidays, representing a key time for retailers to engage with both parents and kids and also to build relationships and loyalty that may be leveraged at other shopping moments. Loyalty often begins at a young age and can last throughout a child’s school years and beyond."
- Diana Smith, Associate Director - Retail & Apparel

This report looks at the following areas:

  • Spending and expected participation levels
  • Planned purchases
  • Shopping timeframe
  • Preferred retailers
  • Influencers
  • What consumers want from retailers

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Overview
          • Spending and expected participation levels
            • What you want to know
              • What we see
                • Planned purchases
                  • What you want to know
                    • What we see
                      • Shopping timeframe
                        • What you want to know
                          • What we see
                            • Preferred retailers
                              • What you want to know
                                • What we see
                                  • Influencers
                                    • What you want to know
                                      • What we see
                                        • What consumers want from retailers
                                          • What you want to know
                                            • What we see
                                              • What it means
                                              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                • Over $80 billion strong
                                                  • Clothes and electronics comprise majority of budgets
                                                    • Youth population stagnates
                                                      • Think single
                                                        • Favorable economic climate
                                                          • Education not a nominal expense
                                                          • Market Size

                                                            • Status quo in 2018
                                                              • Figure 1: Consumers' planned back-to-school (K-12) and back-to-college spending, in current dollars, 2013-18
                                                            • Highest estimated college spending on record
                                                              • Figure 2: Consumers' planned back-to-school (K-12) and back-to-college spending, in current dollars, 2013-18
                                                          • Market Breakdown

                                                            • Expectations decline for college spending per household
                                                              • Figure 3: Consumers' expected back-to-school (K-12) and back-to-college average spending per household, in current dollars, 2013-18
                                                            • Clothing and electronics are the biggest spending categories
                                                              • Figure 4: Expected back-to-school (K-12) household share of spend, by category, 2018
                                                              • Figure 5: Expected back-to-college household share of spend, by category, 2018
                                                              • Figure 6: Consumers' expected back-to-school (K-12) and back-to-college spending per household, by primary category, in current dollars, 2018
                                                          • Market Factors

                                                            • The population
                                                              • Fewer children, fewer BTS needs
                                                                • Figure 7: Households, by presence of related children, 2008-18
                                                              • A different picture for multicultural households
                                                                • Figure 8: Share of households with related children, by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2018
                                                              • A shrinking school-aged kid population
                                                                • Figure 9: Population school-aged children, by age, 2013-23
                                                              • Changing family dynamics
                                                                • Figure 10: Living arrangements of children under age 18, 2008 and 2018
                                                              • The economy
                                                                • Macroeconomic factors bode well for upcoming BTS season
                                                                  • Figure 11: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000-November 2018
                                                                  • Figure 12: Median household income, in inflation-adjusted dollars, 2007-17
                                                                • Education
                                                                  • Kids are expensive
                                                                    • College enrollment on the decline
                                                                      • Figure 13: Share of school enrollment of the population 3 years old and over, by level, 2017
                                                                    • More students studying online
                                                                    • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                                                      • Standing out in the inbox
                                                                        • Working around the Amazon effect
                                                                          • Clambering for student dollars
                                                                            • iGens and Millennial parents as shoppers = a digital future
                                                                            • What’s Happening?

                                                                              • Email continues to pay dividends
                                                                                  • Figure 14: Back-to-school top volume email campaigns, Target and Macy’s, June-September 2018
                                                                                  • Figure 15: Back-to-school top performing email campaigns, Amazon, Panera, Nike, June-September 2018
                                                                                  • Figure 16: Back-to-school FedEx email, August 2018
                                                                                • Competing against Amazon
                                                                                  • Figure 17: Back-to-school top volume direct mail campaigns, Jet.com and Walmart, July–August 2018
                                                                                • Catering to college students
                                                                                  • Electronics
                                                                                    • Figure 18: Back-to-school top volume direct mail campaign, Dell, July 2018
                                                                                    • Figure 19: Back-to-school telecom campaigns, Sprint and AT&T, July-August 2018
                                                                                  • Furnishings
                                                                                    • Figure 20: Walmart’s 3-D virtual shopping tour, screen shot, June 2018
                                                                                  • Clothing
                                                                                  • What’s Next?

                                                                                    • Technology and “modern” convenience will shape the future
                                                                                      • Trending attitudes toward online shopping
                                                                                        • Figure 21: Attitudes toward online shopping, by generation, March 2018
                                                                                      • Shopping and sharing via social media
                                                                                        • Figure 22: Attitudes toward social media for online shopping, by generation, September 2018
                                                                                      • Will impulse shoppers buy online?
                                                                                        • What iGens consider and seek when shopping
                                                                                          • Figure 23: iGeneration purchase preferences, by age, December 2017
                                                                                      • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                        • Positive signs for 2019-20 school year
                                                                                          • More time to shop
                                                                                            • Big three capture share of shopping occasions
                                                                                              • Clothes, shoes, supplies, check!
                                                                                                • Schools are a growing influencer
                                                                                                  • Parents want fun and convenience; college kids want to save a buck
                                                                                                  • Shopping Participation

                                                                                                    • Key highlights
                                                                                                      • Participation levels expected to be higher in 2019
                                                                                                        • Figure 24: Shopping participation – Parents versus college students, November 2018
                                                                                                      • Parents
                                                                                                        • Dads are shopping too
                                                                                                          • Figure 25: Shopping participation – Parents, November 2018
                                                                                                          • Figure 26: Shopping participation – Parents, by gender, November 2018
                                                                                                        • College students
                                                                                                          • More students planning to shop
                                                                                                            • Figure 27: Shopping participation – College students, October 2017-November 2018
                                                                                                          • Most college students live at home while in school
                                                                                                            • Figure 28: College student living arrangements, by shopping participation in 2018-19, November 2018
                                                                                                        • Shopping Timeframe

                                                                                                          • Key highlights
                                                                                                            • Getting a jump start
                                                                                                              • Parents
                                                                                                                • Over 70% start at least three weeks out
                                                                                                                  • Figure 29: Shopping timeframe – Parents, November 2018
                                                                                                                  • Figure 30: Shopping timeframe - parents, by number of children under 18 in household, November 2018
                                                                                                                • In and out in one trip
                                                                                                                  • Figure 31: Attitudes toward timing of shopping - Parents, by household income, November 2018
                                                                                                                • College students
                                                                                                                  • Majority do most of their shopping before school begins
                                                                                                                    • Figure 32: Attitudes toward timing of shopping – College students, by gender, November 2018
                                                                                                                  • The impact of Amazon Prime Day
                                                                                                                  • Retailers Shopped

                                                                                                                    • Key highlights
                                                                                                                      • “Big three” continue to dominate; ecommerce grows
                                                                                                                        • Figure 33: Top three retailers shopped and method of shopping – parents versus college students, November 2018
                                                                                                                      • Parents
                                                                                                                        • Walmart is winning
                                                                                                                          • Figure 34: Retailers shopped – Parents, November 2018
                                                                                                                        • Dads shop a little differently than moms
                                                                                                                          • Figure 35: Retailers shopped – Parents, by gender, November 2018
                                                                                                                        • Lower-income consumers more allegiant to Walmart, dollar stores
                                                                                                                          • Figure 36: Retailers shopped – Parents, by household income, November 2018
                                                                                                                        • Hispanic and Black non-Hispanic shoppers also seek value
                                                                                                                          • Figure 37: Retailers shopped – Parents, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2018
                                                                                                                        • College students
                                                                                                                          • Amazon declines the most YOY as students favor physical stores
                                                                                                                            • Figure 38: Retailers shopped – College students, November 2018
                                                                                                                        • Items to Purchase

                                                                                                                          • Key highlights
                                                                                                                            • Clothing, accessories, supplies top shopping lists
                                                                                                                              • Parents
                                                                                                                                • All-in-one supply kits add convenience for some; reduces fun for others
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 39: Items to purchase – Parents, November 2018
                                                                                                                                  • Young boys may be content with last year’s styles
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 40: Clothing and footwear to purchase – Parents, by gender by age of child, November 2018
                                                                                                                                  • Moms take the reins during BTS
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 41: Items to purchase – Parents, by gender and marital status, November 2018
                                                                                                                                  • Invested in their children’s success
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 42: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping – Parents, by household income and marital status, November 2018
                                                                                                                                  • College students
                                                                                                                                    • Three quarters plan to prioritize school supplies
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 43: Items to purchase – College students, November 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Electronics are a higher priority
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 44: Electronics to purchase – College students, November 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Year in school as well as where students live impacts what they buy
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 45: Items to purchase – College students, by shopping participation, November 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Consider all living situations
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 46: College student living arrangements, by items to purchase, November 2018
                                                                                                                                  • Shopping Influencers

                                                                                                                                    • Key highlights
                                                                                                                                      • Deals, recommendations and familiarity sway shopping decisions
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 47: Influence of recommendations and media/advertising – parents versus college students, November 2018
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 48: Shopping influencers – Parents versus college students, November 2018
                                                                                                                                        • Parents
                                                                                                                                          • Deal-based incentives have universal appeal
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 49: Influence of promotions/coupons and brand familiarity – Parents, by household income, November 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 50: Shopping influencers – Parents, by gender, November 2018
                                                                                                                                          • Kids themselves have tremendous pull
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 51: Influence of children – Parents, by gender and by age, November 2018
                                                                                                                                          • College students
                                                                                                                                            • School recommendations, social media and some advertising see gains
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 52: Shopping influencers – College students, 2018 versus 2019, October 2017 and November 2018
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 53: Shopping influencers – College students, by gender, November 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Social media no longer optional
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 54: Social media usage – College students, November 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Attitudes and Behaviors toward Back-to-School Shopping

                                                                                                                                              • Key highlights
                                                                                                                                                • Retailers can enhance positive feelings associated with BTS
                                                                                                                                                  • Parents
                                                                                                                                                    • More fun, less stress
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 55: Attitudes related to enjoyment of back-to-school shopping – parents, by gender and generation, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 56: Sources of stress – Parents, by household income and number of children in the household, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 57: Attitudes toward kids’ empowerment, by attitudes toward back-to-school shopping - parents, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                    • Bonding time
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 58: How parents view back-to-school shopping, by generation and gender and marital status, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                    • College students
                                                                                                                                                      • Nearly half buy their own items
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 59: Financial responsibility for back-to-school needs – college students, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 60: Financial responsibility for back-to-school needs, by select shopping behaviors – college students, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                      • Recycling tendencies may pose a threat
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 61: Attitudes and behaviors toward recycling – College students, by gender, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                    • Desired Improvements

                                                                                                                                                      • Key highlights
                                                                                                                                                        • Convenience for parents, value/savings for students
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 62: Top five desired improvements, parents versus college students, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                        • Parents
                                                                                                                                                          • Little conveniences go a long way with parents
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 63: Desired improvements – Parents, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                          • Working parents value convenience more than stay-at-home parents do
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 64: Select desired improvements – Parents, by employment status of parent, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                          • Dads keenly interested in anything that helps them shop for their kids
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 65: Select desired improvements – Parents, by gender, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                          • Three quarters of parents can be reached with just five improvements
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 66: TURF analysis – Parents’ desired improvements, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                          • College students
                                                                                                                                                            • Savings and shortcuts
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 67: Desired improvements – College students, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                            • Women seek discounts and convenience while men seek assistance
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 68: Select desired improvements – College students, by gender, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                            • Top two value-oriented improvements would reach nearly three quarters of students
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 69: TURF analysis – College students’ desired improvements, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                                                                            • Data sources
                                                                                                                                                              • Sales data
                                                                                                                                                                • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                                                                                  • TURF analysis methodology
                                                                                                                                                                    • Direct marketing creative
                                                                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                          • Terms
                                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – The Market

                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 70: Consumers' planned back-to-school (K-12) and back-to-college spending, in current dollars, 2013-18
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 71: Consumers' planned back-to-school (K-12) and back-to-college spending, in inflation-adjusted dollars, 2013-18
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 72: Consumers' planned back-to-school (K-12) and back-to-college spending, by segment, in current dollars, 2013-18
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 73: Consumers' planned back-to-school (K-12) and back-to-college spending, by segment, in current dollars, 2016 and 2018
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 74: Consumers' planned back-to-school (K-12) spending, in inflation-adjusted dollars, 2013-18
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 75: Consumers' planned back-to-college spending, in inflation-adjusted dollars, 2013-18
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 76: Consumers' expected back-to-school (K-12) and back-to-college spending per household, by category, in current dollars, 2018
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 77: School enrollment of the population 3 years old and over, by level, October 2008-17
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 78: Enrollment Status of the Population 3 Years and Over, by age and level, October 2017
                                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Key Players

                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 79: Back-to-school email read rate and volume, by day of week, June-September 2018
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 80: Back-to-school share of email volume, by retailer, June-September 2018
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 81: Back-to-school Verizon direct mail, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 82: Table – TURF analysis – Parents’ desired improvements, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 83: TURF analysis – college students’ desired improvements, November 2018

                                                                                                                                                                          Back to School Shopping - US - January 2019

                                                                                                                                                                          US $4,395.00 (Excl.Tax)