Back-to-School Shoppers Heavily Influenced by Coupons, Sales

August 21, 2012

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Data-driven | Email | Mobile Phone | Promotions, Coupons & Co-op | Retail & E-Commerce

nrf-promotions-influence-back-to-school-august2012.pngAmong back-to-school shoppers who had already begun shopping by August 7, 38.5% said that more than half of their purchases had been influenced by coupons, sales, and/or promotions, per results from an updated NRF survey, conducted by BIGinsight. And recently-released data from a PriceGrabber survey indicates that almost half of consumers believe that retailers are offering better promotions on back-to-school items this year as compared to last. Even so, the NRF figures actually represent a small step down from last year in terms of promotional influence – in 2011, 41.5% reported having more than half of their purchases influenced by promotions. This year, a greater proportion of respondents said that 51-75% of their purchases were influenced (19% vs. 15.8%), although last year, a much higher proportion said all of their purchases were influenced by promotions (16.8% vs. 11%).

Discount, Department Stores to Get Traffic

Further details from the NRF survey reveal that as of August 7, 26.9% of respondents had not yet started their back-to-school shopping, compared to 16.7% who had completed more than three-quarters. Among the roughly three-quarters of respondents who had already begun shopping by August 7, 59.6% said they anticipated doing the remainder of their shopping at a discount store, while 54.4% planned to finish their shopping at a department store. Slightly more than one-quarter planned to do their shopping online, a smaller proportion than those looking to clothing stores (42.9%) and office supplies stores (37.3%).

The PriceGrabber survey respondents, who are online consumers, had a predictably different take. Two-thirds plan to shop at large, multi-channel department stores, while online retailers are their second-most common option, ahead of discount, retail outlet, and office supply chain stores. To try and target these online shoppers, the top online retailers sent each of their subscribers 3.7 promotional emails on average during the week ending August 17, a peak for the season, and up 20% year-over-year, per The Retail Email Blog.

A separate study from Compete, also released in August, found 73% of respondents planning to purchase back-to-school products at mass merchants, with department stores (42%) and office and school supply stores (40%) trailing.

Other estimates on shopping destinations for the back-to-school season can be found here.

Kids, Parents Differ on Items

Meanwhile, according to an Ebates survey conducted by Harris Interactive and released in August, while a plurality (43%) of parents believe their children want new clothing for the back-to-school season, children don’t agree. A similar proportion (42%) of children said they want high-tech items for school, compared to 29% who want clothing. Just 10% of parents surveyed thought their children were hoping they would buy tech items.

The Compete results found 79% of respondents planning to shop for school supplies, with clothing (64%) and shoes (49%) also on the list for many. That survey only showed 21% of respondents planning to buy electronics.

Other Findings:

  • According to the NRF survey, one-third of back-to-school shoppers who own smartphones plan to use their device to research products and/or compare prices, and slightly less than 1 in 5 will make a purchase on their smartphone. Tablet owners are more likely to do each activity, at 43.8% and 28.4%, respectively.
  • Per the PriceGrabber survey results, 34% of respondents said they were finding better deals online, compared to 22% who were finding better deals in stores.

About the Data: NRF’s 2012 Back-to-School survey was conducted for NRF by BIGinsight. The updated poll of 8,509 consumers was conducted from August 1-7, 2012. The smartphone/tablet data was collected July 2-9, 2012 among 8509 consumers.

Compete’s “Summer 2012 Online Shopping Intelligence” surveyed 804 back-to-school shoppers.

The Ebates data comes from a survey conducted online in the US by Harris Interactive from June 12-14, among 2,208 adults aged 18 and older. The online youth survey was conducted from June 13-20, among 1142 youth aged 8 to 18 years old.

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