Back-To-School Supplies Sales Grow With Added Boost From E-commerce, Reports NPD

Port Washington, NY, September 30, 2014 – The NPD Group, Inc., a global information company, reports total back-to-school season (9 weeks ending September 6, 2014) spending levels on traditional supplies increased 2 percent versus 2013, with e-commerce acting as a key catalyst at more than 20 percent growth during the same time period.

Most back-to-school shopping occurs at retail brick-and-mortar stores (88 percent), but 2014 online sales claimed an estimated $33 million previously held by brick-and-mortar retailers. This season’s growth resulted in an overall increase of $74 million in sales for the 2014 back-to-school season, and $35 million of it came from the e-commerce channel, according to NPD’s Weekly Retail Tracking Service.

“Channel lines are blurring as consumers are finding ways to do more with less time and money,” said Leen Nsouli, office supplies category specialist, The NPD Group, Inc. “The use of social media and online content may have more effectively engaged consumers, simplifying the process of getting the school supplies they want, for the price they want to pay, and in some cases shopping online while in-store or without physically shopping around.”

The 2014 NPD Back-to-School Monitor indicates that most important factors consumers consider when selecting a back-to-school shopping destination are low prices and a well-stocked school supply section. More than 40 percent of consumers will shop at more than one retailer to find a specific item, despite preferring one-stop-shopping, but only 17 percent of consumers shop around for a better price. Consumers are finding ways to save time and money by doing pre-shopping research online, and more of them are using smartphones and tablets to do so.

Growth in spending on traditional supplies in the pre-college segments, combined with the usage of school lists for shopping by 75 percent of consumers, underscores the importance of knowing what is on school lists. Manufacturers and retailers can utilize this information to effectively plan their product lineup and marketing efforts. In many cases, teachers specify a brand preference for the items included on school lists, according to NPD’s 2014 School List Database.

“Today’s evolving back-to-school supply market presents an opportunity for brick-and-mortar and online retailers alike,” said Nsouli. “As school websites become more sophisticated, teacher lists more accessible, and e-commerce options more prevalent, understanding who is shopping and purchasing online versus in stores is critical to creating an effective omni-channel approach to maximize sales in future seasons.”

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Weekly Retail Tracking Service, 9 weeks ending September 6, 2014
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / 2014 Back-to-School Monitor, July
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / 2014 School List Database

Press Contact

Janine Marshall

The NPD Group, Inc.
900 West Shore Road
Port Washington, NY 11050

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