Every year when my calendar turns from July to August, I get struck with the feeling that summer is coming to an end. Even as a grown adult, when I start to see back-to-school ads all over the place, it acts as a sudden reminder to squeeze every last ounce of fun I possibly can out of these last few weeks of summer.
Now I’m not sure if the rest of the world feels the same way, or if companies are just doing a really great job pushing out ads at the perfect time, but our data would suggest that one or both of these things is indeed happening. Come the first week of August this year, the percentage of back-to-school shoppers who completed all of their shopping nearly doubled compared to the last two weeks of July.
When looking at back-to-school shopping over the past few years, there’s a gradual increase in online shopping, but the overwhelming majority still tend to do less than half of their back-to-school shopping online.
At first glance, this is encouraging for retail stores hoping to drive foot traffic, but there’s an underlying piece of the story that’s important to consider. The quarter of back-to-school shoppers who are planning to spend more money this year compared to last year are actually significantly more likely than their counterparts to do over half of their shopping online. This would suggest that while the majority of back-to-school sales will likely come from in-store shopping, incremental growth compared to past years will likely be driven by online sales.
Despite this indication that online sales will drive incremental growth, this isn’t necessarily true across all brands. While traditional retail stores like Target and Walmart will likely appeal to this population of shoppers who will be spending more compared to last year, our data indicate that Amazon.com doesn’t appeal to this audience any more than it appeals to those who plan to spend the same or less than they did last year.
What does this all mean for brands and advertisers? In-store shopping remains important as ever when it comes to back-to-school shopping, but in order to drive incremental sales, an omnichannel strategy is key.