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Parents and their children in grades K-12 will spend a combined
"While the uneven economic recovery is still impacting consumers' spending intentions, it may not be the factor it was in recent years," said
More than two-thirds of respondents (68 percent) shopping for children in grades K-12 indicate their back-to-school purchases will be driven by the school's recommended product list, rather than their child's requests. Additionally, they may be delaying some of their purchases until after school begins, as more than one-quarter (26 percent) of parents expect to complete their shopping after the start of the school year.
In terms of where consumers plan to shop, "online sites" moved up to the No.2 shopping destination, tied with "office supply/technology stores," and behind "discount/value department stores" for the first time in the survey's history. The number of shoppers who prefer to purchase from retailers offering the option to buy online and pick up in the store increased to 40 percent from 33 percent last year. Nearly six in 10 (57 percent) say they plan to conduct research online before buying in the physical store.
"Rather than thinking solely in terms of e-commerce, retailers need to consider how consumers' digital interactions — not exclusively purchases — influence what they do and don't buy in the brick-and-mortar store," continued Paul. "Retailers should look at their online and mobile channels as a greater opportunity to drive traffic and revenue at the physical store, rather than viewing it as merely a point of purchase, where it actually tends to deliver lower sales than the physical store as a whole."
In addition to these elements shaping back-to-school shopping, consumers still have the economy in mind. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents believe the economy is recovering, but continue to exercise some caution. While high food prices once again top their list of economic concerns that could impact their spending plans, other worries dipped this year, including energy prices (down 5 percentage points), medical costs (down 10 percentage points) and taxes (down 12 percentage points).
Data security, privacy concerns persist
Personal data protection adds another layer of complexity to winning over the consumer. Nearly six in 10 (55 percent) of respondents in the Back-to-School survey say they are more concerned about the protection of their personal data when shopping online than one year ago. Those worries extend to the physical store, where more than half (51 percent) of respondents said they are concerned about the protection of their personal data. However, 44 percent acknowledged that they are more likely to shop at a retailer who provides education surrounding the security of their personal data.
"Given recent high-profile data breaches, consumers are keenly aware of potential threats," continued Paul. "Retailers should consider risk management as a fundamental part of their brand reputation and long-term growth. Securing the transactional environment is no longer a standalone component, and retailers need to be vigilant to detect abnormal activity, and also be ready and resilient enough to regain control should incidents occur."
A new social scene emerges
While nearly one in five (18 percent) parents of children in grades K-12 plan to visit social media sites, on par with last year, the percentage more than doubles in college households. Two in five, or 44 percent, of respondents said they or their children plan to use social media sites to assist in their back-to-college shopping.
However, this year reveals a shift in the value that households with college-bound students place on social sources, with declining emphasis on simply looking for deals. While the number of shoppers checking social media channels for promotions dipped 12 percentage points to 55 percent compared with 2013, the number who plan to visit retailers' pages (46 percent) jumped 12 percentage points, and those posting comments and reviews (37 percent) climbed 13 percentage points from 2013.
Among the electronics that college students own, the survey revealed that smartphone ownership overtook personal computer (desktop and laptop) ownership in 2014. Nine in 10 (89 percent) college students own smart phones, compared with 84 percent who own a desktop or laptop. Additionally, the percentage of college students who own tablets has grown to 32 percent from 18 percent last year.
About the Surveys
The surveys were commissioned by Deloitte and conducted online by an independent research company
About Deloitte's Retail & Distribution Practice
Deloitte is a leading presence in the retail and distribution industry, providing audit, consulting, risk management, financial advisory and tax services to more than 75 percent of the Fortune 500 retailers. With more than 1,400 professionals, Deloitte's retail & distribution practice provides insights, services and solutions assisting retailers across all major subsectors including apparel, grocery, food and drug, wholesale and distribution and online. For more information about Deloitte's retail & distribution sector, please visit www.deloitte.com/us/retail-distribution.
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