Online Shoppers and Back to School/Back to College – Part 2

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As summer progresses, many college-bound students are just starting to think about back to college shopping.  Recently, BIGresearch conducted the 2009 Back to School / Back to College Consumer Actions and Intentions survey on behalf of the National Retail Federation, surveying over 8,300 consumers.  It appears that almost a quarter already has embarked on this task, while another third will be waiting until three to four weeks before school starts to start this annual ritual.  And while department stores and the trusty college bookstore can look forward to business from not quite half of back to college shoppers, over one quarter (28.6%) will also be shopping online. 

What do these online shoppers for back to college mean to retailers this year? 

Spending.  Certainly, the toll of economic jitters is noticeable in this group:  not quite half of online back to college shoppers noted they will be spending less overall that in previous years and shopping more for sales.  One third plan to buy more store brand / generic products, will make do with last year’s school items, and use coupons more than in the past. 

Products.  As to specific product categories, online back to college shoppers expect to spend a greater net average in every category surveyed compared with all back to college shoppers.  For example, back to college online shoppers will spend a net average of $443.52 for electronics or computer-related equipment, vs. $266.08 across all back to college shoppers in this category.  Clothing, dorm and apartment furnishings, and shoes will also do better than average among online shoppers heading back to campus this fall.  All told, the combined average expected spend for back to college online shoppers is $909.68, or 47% more than all consumers shopping for this same purpose.  

Shop.org Members may download the full results of this survey.  As always, we welcome your feedback and comments – has a back to college campaign particularly caught your eye?  Tell us more. 

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  1. [...] and students are progressing in this endeavor since we first asked about their back-to-school and back-to-college shopping plans last month. (That updated survey was released today.) This blog post explores [...]

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