Home Blog Back-to-School Shoppers Think About Their Fashion Spend Differently

The NPD Group Blog

Insights and Opinions From Analysts and Experts in More Than 20 Industries

The New Look of Back-to-School

Aug 23, 2017
Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Advisor ;
Apparel

This back-to-school shopping season is a clear reflection of changing times. Besides the season starting earlier and ending later, back-to-school shopping now includes more options for the consumer than ever before, and the effects of these overarching shifts are impacting retail fashion at a deeper level. Kids no longer flock to a single must-have item or a must-shop store. Rather, students are shopping eclectically and this is putting a new kind of pressure on retailers.

Apparel accounts for the largest share of back-to-school spending for students in Kindergarten through 12th grade, and almost 60 percent of consumers told NPD that they planned to spend more on apparel purchases for back-to-school during the 2017 shopping season*. Yet, overall apparel dollar sales are down two percent in the nine weeks ending August 12 compared to the same period in 2016**. The reality is the majority of the back-to-school wardrobe comes together after school starts. By September 2016, more than a quarter of consumers had not yet completed their back-to-school apparel shopping*. In spite of the promotions happening at retail – the days of students shopping for the bulk of their school clothes in the summer are quickly fading. But even after school has started, the fashion industry has another set of challenges to face.

Today’s younger generations view fashion through a different lens than those who preceded them. Generation Z’s emphasis on social media has also changed the way fashion is communicated, inspired, and consumed among teens. As a result, fashion has gotten much more eclectic – a wide range of styles has now taken the place of the must-have look. There are also lots of choices for where to shop, from the high-end to the low-end, and everything in-between – never mind all the online and in-store options.

Consumer shopping delays and diversity are the drivers behind the recent two percent decline in apparel sales and the challenges that retail fashion will continue to face beyond this back-to-school shopping season. The lack of passion for fashion among today’s youth, the lack of on overarching fashion influence, and lack of a singular fashion direction has created a gap between the retailer and the consumer, which is resulting in a gap in sales.

While apparel will be a top back-to-school spend, albeit delayed, back-to-school shoppers are thinking about their back-to-school fashion spend differently. Manufacturers and retailers need to close the gap and relate to the students shopping for apparel consumer and ask, “What’s your look?”

* Source: The NPD Group / LAB Series: 2017 Back-to-School Report
** Source: The NPD Group / Weekly Retail Tracking Service



Related Blog Posts


January 19, 2018

Apparel’s Just Gotta Have Fun in 2018

When a new year arrives, I start to think of the things I’d like to do differently from the last.

December 29, 2017

2018 Could Be a Rocky Road for Retail

Everyone wrote retail off during Holiday 2017, but the consumer was resilient and the economy keeps chugging along.

November 28, 2017

Thanksgiving Week Got a Bump, But Holiday Sales Are Still Out of Balance

Stores were certainly busier than last year, but from what I saw Thanksgiving and Black Friday were a mixed bag this year.

November 7, 2017

Tis the Season To Be Unique – Apparel Looks To New Shopping Experiences

A good portion of my family members celebrate their birthdays in the fall.

Newsletter

Subscribe and get key market trends and insights relevant to your industry each month.

We will not sell your information. View our privacy policy.

Follow Us

© The NPD Group, Inc.