Home Blog 2019 In-store sales account for 89 percent of supplies sales during back-to-school season
Jul 2, 2019

Stores Still Rule Back-to-School

Subscribe to our blog

School’s out and summer is officially under way, but for retailers and manufacturers, the second largest season of the year has only just started. In the U.S. the office supplies back-to-school season accounts for 34 percent of annual retail dollar sales and 46 percent of annual unit sales.*

During the 2018 back-to-school season, the average consumer purchasing office supplies made three purchase trips. This is down 4 percent versus the same time period the previous year. This can partially be attributed to more consumers migrating online to buy supplies. Mass channel retailers are also a key contributor to this trend, especially for consumers looking to make fewer trips and save time with one-stop shopping convenience. Despite the drop in purchase trips, store sales still dominate and account for 89 percent of office supplies spend during the season.

Over the last five years, Prime Day has increasingly played a role in moving sales online early in the season. In 2019, Prime Day will run for two days, the longest duration yet. Both mass and specialty retailers are planning to participate and compete for consumers’ online share of wallet. Retailers have been experimenting with innovative solutions to improve the omni-channel shopping experience for consumers – but convenience is still king. In some instances, consumers can automatically add items from a school fulfillment list to their online carts and continue to checkout. They can then choose to have the items shipped to their home or elect to buy-online and pick-up in store, an option that accounts for 3 percent of retail purchases and is expected to increase.**

For now, e-commerce share of total retail sales in office supplies remains at 11 percent up from 9 percent in 2016. Heading into the 2019 season, the online growth rate has slowed versus prior years from 17 percent in 2017, to 11 percent in 2018*, and is now 7 percent for 2019 year-to-date sales.*** This is important to note as historically, online growth rates have helped lift total retail sales for the season. If the online growth rate remains the same during this year’s back-to-school shopping season, it will be challenging for the 2019 season to compare positively against 2018.

The in-store shopping experience offers several elements that the online experience might look to integrate. For many, back-to-school shopping can feel like a rite of passage, empowering the student to take-on the school year while shifting focus from summer to the school year ahead. From the perspective of retailers and manufacturers, an in-store shopping experience is also more likely to trigger purchases beyond a teacher’s back-to-school list, leading to impulse buys, a behavior not as easily offered online. In order to capture more market share, e-commerce must figure out how to better translate the in-store experience to online shopping.

NPD expects retail office supplies industry players to face some key challenges during the 2019 back-to-school season. Winning the season will involve creative solutions both in-store and online. Those who capture consumer spend using solution-driven merchandising, competitive pricing, coupled with the right timing by market and a seamless omni-channel shopping experience will find success. Ultimately, consumers will determine the widespread acceptance of online back-to-school shopping, but for now, the in-store experience has remained the preferred method to buy school supplies.

 

 

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc./Retail Tracking Service/13WE Oct. 06, 2018
**Source: The NPD Group, Inc./Checkout E-Commerce Tracking
***Source: The NPD Group, Inc./Retail Tracking Service/21WE Jun. 01, 2019



Upcoming Event


Webinar: Shifting Consumer Behavior During Covid-19: Part 2

Presenter: Joe Derochowski – Vice President, Industry Advisor, Home
Date: Wednesday, April 29th at 12pm CT
Overview: Much of the country has been under stay-at-home orders for several weeks. As consumers have settled into a living situation that blends work, school, exercise and social gatherings all under one roof, their purchasing behavior can begin to identify the evolving challenges and needs of adapting to this lifestyle. The NPD Group’s Joe Derochowski will present an update on recent consumer spending, focusing on the time frame during which many households were recognizing that they would be at home for weeks to come.

Learn More

Stay current in your industry
SUBSCRIBE

Related Content

Tagged: Office Supplies


Driving New Product Launch Success
Driving New Product Launch Success

Do you have a brilliant new product idea or want to refresh an existing product? To make killer products people love, you need to distinguish winners from losers. No matter how cool your ideas look on paper, we can help you align your them with consumers’ wants and needs.

Working and Schooling from Home Prompts Sales Growth for Productivity Tools, Reports NPD
Working and Schooling from Home Prompts Sales Growth for Productivity Tools, Reports NPD

Office supplies and tech products tied to home office solutions, organization, and school from home have seen substantial sales increases. Furthermore, the current circumstances have prompted an off-season, springtime surge in traditional back-to-school supplies purchases.

Homebound Consumers Dive into Arts and Crafts
Homebound Consumers Dive into Arts and Crafts

In response to the COVID-19 public health crisis, many families in the U.S. are working and schooling from home and trying to balance screen time with real-world activities.

Hand Sanitizer Sales Spike in the U.S. Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, Reports NPD Group
Hand Sanitizer Sales Spike in the U.S. Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, Reports NPD Group

Hand sanitizer dollar sales grew by 67% in the four weeks ending February 22, 2020 over the same period in 2019. Online sales alone grew by 170%.

Newsletter

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

We will not sell your information. View privacy notice. | Cookie Settings

Follow Us

© 2020 The NPD Group, Inc.