Back-to-school spending to continue growing

In addition to increased online shopping, a study also suggests parents are making multiple in-person trips to find the best deals.

School may have just ended, but planning for the back-to-school shopping season has already begun to capture what one report suggests will be frequent shopping trips by parents and increased online spending.

Conducted by marketing intelligence firm MiQ, the study looked at school shopper trends in the UK, Australia, the U.S. and Canada. In 2018, Canadians spent an average of $183 dollars on back-to-school shopping, and this figure is expected to rise as part of a year-over-year trend.

Online spending by Canadian back-to-school shoppers has more than doubled over the last four years. According to the study, ecommerce in Canada accounts for 8.5% of all retail sales in Canada in 2018, lagging behind the U.S. slightly (10%). It’s a figure that’s expected to swell to 11% during this year’s retail season, with one-third of back-to-school shopping taking place through ecommerce channels. Beyond just catering to online shopping, the report suggests having a sound mobile strategy is a must, as it expects over $1.5 billion to be spent online during the 2019 back-to-school season.

In their efforts to save money, 73% of back-to-school shoppers in Canada will make multiple trips during the season (with each trip lasting between 30 and 45 minutes). They will also conduct extensive online research into the best deals and sales, which the study suggests gives retailers an opportunity to catch shoppers in a later store visit if they didn’t purchase on their first trip.

How shoppers hunt for bargains differs according to product category. More than 69% of research for clothing will occur prior to a store visit, with another 19% doing further research afterward (only 12% of deal-seeking research in the category is done by shoppers in-store). Comparatively, 71% of consumer electronics research will occur in-store on a mobile device prior to a purchase, giving competing retailers ample opportunity to put competing deals and messaging in front of a consumer about to pull the trigger.

Parents do the bulk of their shopping in the two to three weeks leading up to the start of the school year, making the best time to launch sales initiatives.  The study shows that most shopping occurs on weekends, although this varies by retailer: big box stores are nearly twice as likely to be visited on weekends, while weekday shoppers prefer department stores like HBC.Weekday shoppers also tend to have more purchasing power, with budgets 1.2x higher on average than weekend shoppers.