Back-to-School Shoppers doing their Homework
By Alison Paul
In the face of rising costs and a stubborn job market, you might expect consumers to tighten their belts even further when it comes to back-to-school shopping this year. But this year, something else is happening. According to our recent survey of 1,000 parents of school-age children in grades K-12, 86 percent said they expected to spend the same or more on back-to-school items as compared to last year. Many expect to spend more simply because they tend to spend more every year. For others, school budget cuts mean a greater share of the burden falls directly on parents to make up the difference and ensure that their children have the items they need.
But this season, they have a battle plan for getting more for their money – and they’re relying more heavily on new tools to put their plans into action. Low prices top the list of most important retailer attributes this season, and to make sure they get the lowest prices, they’re increasingly turning to social media and Web-enabled smartphones. Among those who have smartphones, 64 percent plan to use them to assist in back-to-school shopping. Their phones are coming in handy for getting price information, downloading discounts, coupons, and sales information, and a lot more.
Similarly, social media is also a rising force for shoppers this year. Consumers are relying on their social networks to find out about promotions, browse products, visit retailers’ pages within social networking sites, sifting through reviews and recommendations, and more. Last year, 29 percent of respondents indicated that they planned to use social media in their back-to-school shopping efforts. This year the percentage has risen to 35 percent.
Technology isn’t the only weapon parents are employing this season. They’re also using familiar, tried-and-true approaches – looking more aggressively for sale items, relying on coupons, even consolidating shopping trips to save on gas. Regardless of their tactics, many are modifying their behaviors this year to fit a new reality.
For retailers, the battle to deliver more value is still on. But price is only part of the picture. Retailers that extend their offerings to include new ways of connecting to consumers through mobile and social media programs may have a better chance of increasing loyalty and wallet share among parents who are looking to stretch their dollars further this school season.
A Response from an Industry Leader
Principal at Deloitte
Back-to-school shoppers doing their homework
Despite a volatile economy and rising costs for everyday necessities, consumers plan to keep their back-to-school spending intact this year by turning to savvy shopping tactics, smartphones and social networks. Many consumers will use their smartphones to enhance their shopping overall, but specifically to find the best price, locate discounts and track down the items they want to buy. Since the connected consumer has more power than ever, and is not afraid to use it to obtain better prices, better service, and more choices, it is critical that retailers are prepared to compete in a world where the digital and in-person shopping experiences are colliding.
Join the Conversation
As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.