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4 in 5 back-to-school shoppers are heading to stores: Price, availability and safe store environment are the most important factors

by | Jul 26, 2023 | Public Relations

A recent report showed us that this year’s back-to-school shoppers were (under certain conditions) remaining loyal to the brands they purchased from in past years, and new research from retail solutions firm Sensormatic Solutions reveals another old-school shopping trend in play in 2023—hitting the stores.

The firm’s 2023 U.S. Back-to-School Consumer Sentiment survey shows us that customers have preferred in-store BTS shopping for the last two years, and will prioritize it again as they prepare for the coming school year—and even more consumers surveyed will do so in 2023, as 4 in 5 (79 percent) consumers plan to do their back-to-school shopping in stores, an increase from 76 percent in 2022 and 2021.

“It’s promising to see that the majority of consumers plan to shop in stores this back-to-school season,” said Brian Field, global leader of retail consulting and analytics at Sensormatic Solutions, in a news release. “Retailers who prioritize delivering exceptional experiences, backed by data, can truly capitalize on this highly profitable time of year.”

4 in 5 back-to-school shoppers are heading to stores: Price, availability and safe store environment remain the most important factors

In addition to highlighting consumers’ preference for in-store shopping, the survey revealed:

Consumers’ financial concerns related to the economy are waning

However, price remains a significant factor in shopping decisions. Consumers seem less worried about how the current U.S. economy will impact their back-to-school shopping budget than they were last year, with 51 percent saying their budget will not be impacted or that they plan to spend more this year, a notable increase as compared to 43 percent in 2022.

Though consumers were less concerned about spending year-over-year, price (91 percent) was still the most important factor for consumers planning to shop in-store, followed by product availability (75 percent) and safety and comfort (44 percent). The importance of in-store promotions also increased for shoppers, with 30 percent now saying it would be a factor in their decisions compared to just 24 percent in 2022 and 16 percent in 2021.

In-store foot traffic is likely to be steady every day of the week

When asked what day of the week they were most likely to do back-to-school shopping, consumers were nearly equally split between weekdays (35 percent) and weekends (32 percent). The remaining 33 percent had no preference. This data shows that the busiest days of the season are likely to occur between July 30 and August 26, based on region.

Too many security measures impedes customer experience

Half of consumers said they’ve noticed items locked up or behind glass display cases during recent shopping experiences, and a similar percentage (51 percent) said they would be unlikely to ask for assistance unlocking the item. Over a quarter (27 percent) of respondents said that, when faced with a locked item, they would look for a more accessible alternative, 17 percent said they would feel frustrated about the item’s inaccessibility and forgo the purchase, and 7 percent would look for a different store that has the item more easily accessible. Overall, 20 percent of shoppers said they are unlikely to purchase a product that is locked up or kept behind a glass display case.

“The fact that 20 percent of shoppers are unlikely to purchase a product that is locked up highlights why retailers should consider implementing an Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) program,” said Kim Melvin, global director of marketing and communications at Sensormatic Solutions, in the release. “By investing in robust EAS solutions, retailers can safeguard their assets, maintain profitability, all while fostering a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.”

Read more about the results here.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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