Back-to-School Shopping Shows Promise for Marketers

Students in Hillsborough County head back to school today, wearing new clothes and laden with school supplies. Each year, back-to-school shopping brings a boost to the retail market, and this year, shopper trends may indicate that consumers are ready to spend more freely. For marketers, these new consumer habits can impact marketing decisions—and provide valuable insights about new shopping trends. That’s why Deloitte conducts its annual Back-to-School Shopping Survey each summer. The 2010 results are promising, even for companies that don’t work retail.

Spending Habits

For the first time in years, consumers are exhibiting a more optimistic attitude about their finances. Fewer people intend to trim their shopping budgets this year.

  • 28% plan to spend more on back-to-school shopping than they did in 2009.
  • Only 17% said they’d spend less than they did last year.
  • In 2009, about 90% of people surveyed said that they intended to drastically reduce their back-to-school shopping budgets. This year, only 58% planned to do that.


More and more consumers are turning to mobile applications and social networks to inform their purchasing choices.

  • 29% of consumers plan to use mobile apps while they shop: of those, 38% will look for pricing information; 33% will view retailers’ ads; and 30% will search for coupons or other discounts.
  • 29% will also turn to their online social networks before making a purchase: 64% will look for promotions and deals; 26% will read recommendations and reviews; and 42% will browse products.

Store Preferences

Although the drive for the deal still pushes most shoppers, higher-end stores are commanding a greater market share this year than they have in the recent past.

  • 89% plan to shop for most supplies at a discount store.
  • 36% plan to shop at office supply or technology stores.
  • 33% will head to dollar stores, down from 40% in 2009.
  • Last year only 21% said they’d head to department stores, but this year 36% of consumers plan to shop there.
  • 23% will head to specialty stores, up from 17% in 2009.

Although these figures aren’t all rosy, they certainly represent an improvement in spending attitudes and habits. Next week, read how these results can help marketing professionals make the most of their opportunities, even outside the retail arena.