While most back-to-school sales are expected to happen in stores this year, mobile devices will be a near-constant presence for parents outfitting their kids for class.

A survey commissioned by Retale, a location-based mobile platform that seeks to help shoppers save money in stores, found that 78 percent of parents would use a smartphone for back-to-school shopping this year. Among those parents, the most common mobile shopping activities are expected to be: comparing prices, searching for coupons or deals, creating shopping lists, accessing saved coupons, checking store hours, researching products, finding nearby stores, checking product reviews and buying directly from the device.

However, fewer than four out of 10 shoppers surveyed said they would buy directly from a smartphone, underscoring the importance of mobile in the planning and researching phases of the shopping trip. Nearly one-third of those surveyed planned to purchase all of their b-t-s items in-store.

“Smartphones have increasingly become the go-to shopping tool for parents to research, plan and organize their back-to-school purchases,” said Pat Dermody, president of Retale. “Retailers need to keep up with mobile’s rise in consumer shopping behavior, incorporating in-store and digital mobile content to drive visits and purchases. If they don’t, parents will simply shop elsewhere.”

The survey polled 1,000 parents with school-aged kids between July 23 to 26.

While shoppers appear to be using smartphones more than ever in their b-t-s shopping, they don’t plan to actually spend more this year. Households with school-age kids indicated they would spend an average of $650 this year, versus $652 a year ago, according to a Brand Keys survey.

Separate research from the National Retail Federation projected that back-to-school apparel and accessories expenditures per family would decline 5.8 percent to $217.82 from $231.30.

The National Retail Foundation found that consumers’ most popular strategies for saving money would be include shopping for sales more often and doing more comparative shopping online.

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