Consumer Finance

Report Finds Back-To-School Shopping Starting Earlier, Lasting Longer

A new report from The NPD Group has revealed that when it comes to back-to-school shopping, consumer spending has become less consistent and predictable in recent years.

According to a news release, back-to-school shopping is starting earlier and lasting longer. While two-thirds of consumers plan to start their shopping the same time as last year, 28 percent said they will start earlier. And in 2016, more than 30 percent started their back-to-school shopping in August, with more than a third completing their shopping list that month.

While August is the most popular time of year for back-to-school shopping, 58 percent of consumers started their shopping before August, while one-third of back-to-school shoppers didn’t finish until September or later. In fact, some made final purchases well into the school year.

“The scope of the back-to-school shopping season has expanded due to the endless shopping opportunities, both in-store and online, enabling consumers to spread their spending out and address needs as they arise,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “As a result, the back-to-school shopping season is starting earlier, lasting longer and expanding beyond the traditional thinking of a single peak retail period. This kind of change is the new constant in retail.”

As for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year, consumers reported that they plan to spend about the same or more on most categories, with more than 45 percent planning to increase their spending on fashion and school supplies, the top categories for the season. Spending on electronics are more evenly divided, with a third of consumers planning on spending more and 38 percent intending to spend less.

The report also found that more than 40 percent of consumers make their back-to-school purchases whenever it is most convenient, regardless of sale dates and tax-free options.

“Despite the lack of passion for fashion among young people, these categories are important to back-to-school shoppers, which spells opportunity that can expand beyond apparel and into the fashion of dorm decor,” added Cohen. “The challenge for today’s retailers, both brick-and-mortar and eCommerce, is to bring the excitement of back-to-school shopping back into the equation for all students, from kindergarten through their final year of college.”

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