The mass merchant trumps other retailers when it comes to the back-to-school shopping season.
Moreover, the b-t-s shopping season doesn’t end when school starts. According to data from the NPD Group Inc.’s receipt mining service Checkout Tracking for receipts from July through September 2016, shoppers made an average of 16 trips to purchase related b-t-s- or back-to-college products. The average spend over the course of those 16 visits was $492 on merchandise that includes apparel, footwear, office supplies, technology, sports equipment, appliances, housewares and home textiles.
The shoppers visited on average seven different retailers, with the mass merchant the clear winner. Almost all made a b-t-s purchase at a mass merchant last year, with the average spend at more than $160 for the season in 2016.
Those data points led Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry analyst, to conclude, “Last year’s data shows us the most likely scenario for this year — you can’t look at any one individual retailer to determine what b-t-s will be like. Retailers that are showing more loyalty programs, adding more convenience into the mix and working hard at creating unique assortments have the advantage over [competitors].”
He noted that the reason why the mass merchant is the winner among its competitors such as a department or specialty store, a warehouse club or even an office supply retailer is because “they’ve done a great job of putting convenience into the mix,” adding that they are putting new assortments on the main floor throughout the season.
According to Cohen, “September is the second biggest b-t-s shopping month only to August. June and July numbers together don’t add up to September. The consumer, between online and the mass merchants, can buy when they want, have the supplies delivered to the school, and can buy as they go along as needed. They’re not going to buy corduroy and sweaters in August. There’s more b-t-s selling to come.”