The ICSC Blog

Bricks Beat Clicks for Back-to-School Shopping

2014 BTS
By Jesse Tron

Shopping in brick-and-mortar stores will be the overwhelmingly preferred method for consumers as they go about their back-to-school shopping this year. Discount stores are still expected to be the overall winners, grabbing a nearly 24 percent share of where consumers will shop. However, many retailers typically found in malls and open-air shopping centers such as office supply stores, department stores, electronic stores and apparel specialty stores will see increased activity as well. Apparel specialty stores were the biggest mover in terms of share, going from 8.4 percent in 2013 to 10 percent this year. Apparel in general is still the second most purchased item during the BTS shopping period – behind school or office supplies – but its popularity is growing this season; most likely a consequence of the rising impact of a “change in fashion trends” as a driver of BTS sales. The amount of consumers that listed this as a reason to increase their spending doubled from last year to 20% in 2014. While consumers typically view BTS merchandise as an essential expenditure, this indicates a strong move towards more discretionary purchases by consumers – a good omen for retail as we progress through the BTS season and into the holidays.

Additionally, consumers may be tiring of online shopping. The share of online as a BTS shopping venue will be 8.1% this year – a drop from last year’s 8.6%. Catalogues will comprise a 3% share. This means that brick-and-mortar retail in total will comprise almost a 90% share of BTS shopping. But showing the importance of omni-channel retailing, “webrooming” will be quite significant during the BTS season as 73% of consumers indicated that they will do research online, and then make their purchase in a physical store.

For more information, read ICSC’s Research Report on Back-to-School Shopping

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