NPD Expects Positive Back-to-School Season For E-commerce

Port Washington, NY, July 10, 2013– The NPD Group, Inc., a global information company, released the results of its annual back-to-school study of consumers' purchasing intentions for the 2013 season. In general, consumers intend to start their shopping later but spend more this year, especially online. This will bring an expected 3 percent dollar increase to online back-to-school sales vs. the prior year with price and convenience being the main motivators.

Back to School Shopping Time Frame % Change vs. prior year
By August 1, 2013 -5%
By September 1, 2013 5%

Source: The NPD Group, Inc.

“The increase in spend online comes at the expense of national chains and mass merchants,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “Value, price, and products that are on sale are less important to the consumers than last year but this is positive news for department stores and apparel specialty retailers too, as more consumers plan to shop there compared to last year.” 

Back-to-School Shopping Locations % Change vs. prior year
Online 4%
Department Stores 4%
Apparel Specialty Stores 3%
National Chains -4%
Mass Merchants -8%

 Source: The NPD Group, Inc.

The 2013 back-to-school category winners were apparel and footwear, followed by calculators, apparel accessories, school bags, and sports equipment, while school supplies are down.

Back-to-School Shopping Category Spend % Change vs. prior year
Apparel 11%
Footwear 9%
Calculators 5%
Apparel Accessories 4%
School Bags 4%
Sports Equipment 3%
School Supplies -5%

Source: The NPD Group, Inc.

“These categories are important to note for several reasons, one is for category growth but another is for reading between the lines and seeing that consumers are spending more on desirables rather than only necessities,” said Cohen. “Parents are loosening up on the tight budgets and letting their kids once again make the decisions.”

The study shows consumers expect to buy students what they want and value to be less of a key factor in their back-to-school shopping decisions.  Back-to-school shoppers aim to listen to students for reasons to purchase an item – illustrating kids’ influence on these seasonal shopping trips. 

Back-to-School Items Reason For Purchase % Change vs. Prior Year
Replacement 6%
Required 5%
Child Wanted It 4%
Influenced by Friends 1%
Trendy/Fashionable -3%
Value -7%

Source: The NPD Group, Inc.

“Students will be buying at their favorite stores, buying some key items they want, and even likely get a new backpack along the way,” concluded Cohen.

Methodology: Findings presented here are based on a poll of 2,500 members of The NPD Group’s online consumer panel.  U.S. adults age 18 and older participated in the study, which was fielded between June 25 and July 1, 2013. 

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