Shoppers Change Their Strategies This Back to School Season

In What's New, Industry News by Accessories Staff

Back to SchoolLos Angeles—Back to School may be an even more integral part of 2013 retail sales than ever before, especially as retailers look to their third quarters to revive lagging sales so far this year.

According to a survey of 1,937 U.S. online shoppers conducted by PriceGrabber from June 16 to August 5, nearly 80% of consumers said they found the majority of back-to-school products and promotions from online retailer emails, websites and blog announcements—an indication that consumers are looking at some nontraditional online means to find the best deals.

“Back-to-school consumers are innovative and resourceful shoppers who are helping to shape the way retailers market their products,” said Sharon Banfield, director of public relations of PriceGrabber.

Looking for More ‘On Sale’

Consumers are determined to think frugally when shopping for back-to-school this year. When the survey respondents were asked to select all the ways their back-to-school shopping behavior will change compared to last year, 57% said they will attempt to buy more items that are “on sale,” while 42% say they will comparison shop for the best price.

Shoppers are looking for deals online, as 39% said they will shop online more than in prior years. Another 39% plan to buy only the necessities; 26% will use more store coupons; while 19% said they will shop at less expensive stores.

Back-to-school shoppers plan to cash in on store loyalty programs with 16% planning to increase their use of store or credit cards offering rewards points. Only 11% of consumers said they would maintain their 2012 shopping habits from last fall, leaving a majority of shoppers looking for the best budget buys.

Mobile Shopping: Looking for Convenience

As the world of mobile shopping continues to grow, 46% of back-to-school shoppers said they would use their smartphone to find deals this year. The variety of ways they plan to utilize their smartphones shows just how integral mobile shopping has become, too.

When mobile shoppers were asked to select all the ways they plan to use their smartphone to save money on back-to-school items, 67% noted they will check prices online before making offline purchases; 47% will read retailer discount emails while in the store; another 47% will have retailer coupons directly texted to their phones; 42% plan to make purchases online from their mobile phone; 30% will use mobile apps and bar code scanners; and 29% will check store inventory online before shopping in-store.

The trend of convenience and accessibility continues when using a mobile device to shop. When smartphone shoppers were asked to select all the locations they are most likely to shop from via their mobile phone, 71% said they would shop right from home, while 36^ indicated they are likely to shop anywhere they can. The third most popular choice for mobile shopping is at work, (28%), followed by 22% who said they are most likely to shop from the passenger seat of a car.

“Showrooming” is still a popular trend with 17% of respondents saying they are likely to shop from their mobile phone while in brick-and-mortar stores and 13% are likely to shop while standing in line. Some consumers like to shop while they dine—12% said they will browse for products while they’re at a restaurant; and another 12% are likely to shop via their phone while traveling.

Social Media Influences Back-to-School Shopping

In this digital age, consumers are not only using social media as a way to interact with friends, they are following their favorite companies and brands online. As consumers are getting accustomed to receiving updates from their favorite companies via social media channels, they are aware of the potential influence it will have on their shopping behavior. When consumers were asked if social media will impact their back-to-school shopping decisions this year, it was divided with 42% saying it wouldn’t impact their shopping decisions and 39% indicating it would. The remaining shoppers were not active on social media.

It is noteworthy to mention that of the consumers who indicated that social media will impact their back-to-school shopping decisions, 85% said that Facebook would influence them most. YouTube ranked second at 23%, and Pinterest ranked a close third at 22%. In fourth place, 19% said that Twitter would influence their back-to-school shopping decisions this year, while 8% indicated “other” social media channels.

MySpace ranked the least popular among social media channels that would influence back-to-school shoppers, receiving only 2% of the vote.




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