It’s a pretty safe bet that few kids are eagerly anticipating the start of school, though this is not necessarily true for parents who may already be tiring of trying to keep kids entertained in record-breaking heat. An even safer bet is that retailers can’t wait for back-to-school (BTS) shopping to begin in earnest. Kantar Retail’s store visits found some retail locations with back-to-school assortments in full display well before the 4th of July. Based on an initial read of planned BTS spending, retailers may be rewarded for their efforts: just over half of all shoppers plan to spend as much as they did last year, with more shoppers planning to spend more and fewer shoppers planning to spend less (Figure 1).
As it has been in each of the past two years, Walmart is the retailer the most shoppers say they plan to shop for school supplies (Figure 2). But the more notable finding is that while Walmart has been playing a more prominent role in shoppers’ plans over the past three years, fewer shoppers have plans to shop at Target, as well as at other channels—e.g., office supply stores, dollar stores, and drugstores—that have been making a more focused effort to go after the BTS business in recent years. Shopper’s spending plans seem to indicate that value and low prices are taking top priority as they consider where to shop.
Of course, it’s still early. Despite many stores being set for BTS, BTS marketing is just ramping up. While Staples is already touting its Guaranteed Savings and Back to School Savings Pass, many other retailers have yet to put the full-court BTS press on shoppers. So shoppers’ plans could change—and it will all be captured by ShopperScape® as we continue to monitor shopping behavior throughout the weeks leading up to the new school year.
Where will you be back-to-school shopping this year?