3 Back-to-School Shopping Insights to Increase Sales

Sara Summers on July 11, 2014 - 9:25 am in Marketing, Retail Shop

back to school shopping

Back-to-school is a busy time for retailers whether you sell pencils and notebooks, clothing, laptops, or mini fridges. This year’s back to school shopping may hold some good news for retailers this year, after a a drop in spending for back-to-school shopping in 2013, the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicted that although customers continue to be practical and mindful of cost, 79% plan to spend the same or more in 2014 than 2013.

Spending Plans for the Upcoming Back to School Shopping Season (Jun-2014)

Spending Plans for the Upcoming Back to School Shopping Season (Jun-2014)

We examined all of the NRF’s back-to-school surveys and developed 3 insights to help you plan for a successful back-to-school shopping season for your store.

Plan for the Long Haul, but August is Still Your Sweet Spot

Where you once didn’t see Back-to-School Sales until August, large retailers like Walmart and Office Max have begun to roll out sales prior to Independence Day in recent years. Target has even gone so far as to create a “Black Friday in July” to boost Back-to-School sales. This may be driven by the National Retail Federation’s findings that 24% of customers report that they begin shopping at least two months before school starts. However, the NRF also discovered that 84% of shoppers have not completed their back to school shopping by August and of those, 21% don’t even begin back-to-school shopping until August. So, while you may want to have back-to-school supplies available earlier in the summer, your inventory should be most heavily stocked in August.

Start Shopping for Back to School

When Customers Start Shopping For Back-to-School (Jul-2013)

Percent of Back to School shopping completed by August

Percent of Customers Who Have Completed Back to School Shopping (Aug-2013)


Promotions are an Effective Back-to-School Sales Tactic

According to NRF, only 11% of customers say that they are not swayed by back-to-school promotions, which means 89% could be swayed to buy if they see a great promotion. Keep this in mind when you are promoting your fall sales.

Percentage of BTS Purchases Influence by Promotions (Aug 2013)

Percentage of BTS Purchases Influence by Promotions (Aug-2013)


Coupons are the Strongest Promotional Influencer

Consider offering coupons and in-store promotions for back-to-school shopping this year. According to NRF’s August 2013 survey, coupons were the most influential media, followed by Newspaper FSIs and ROP. The good news is that coupons and newspaper advertising can be implemented in a relatively short timeline, so if you haven’t created a promotional plan yet, there is still time!

Coupons are the most influential promotion

Media That Influences Back-to-School Shopping (Aug-2013)

Using these analytic insights from the National Retail Federation, you should be able to better plan your buying cycle, in-store merchandising, and promotional strategy to increase your sales and take advantage of this year’s increased customer sales prediction. Good luck!

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