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Shoppers Still Take to the Aisles for Back-to-School

National  + Weekender  | 

Back-to-school remains a selling season in which e-commerce merchants still haven’t gotten the upper hand. The International Council of Shopping Centers’ 2018 Back to School Survey says that physical stores continue to be the most popular format for BTS purchases.

Nearly 90% of BTS shoppers will make purchases in physical stores, according to ICSC. That percentage rises to 95% when consumers, who will purchase online from retailers that also have stores, are factored in.

And BTS remains big business. The ICSC survey says that 50% of adults in the U.S. will buy items for BTS this year.

The National Retail Federation projected last month that sales for BTS and college will reach $82.8 billion, down just slightly from $83.6 billion in 2017. “With the economy thriving thanks to tax reform and growing consumer confidence, we expect to see a very strong season,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay.

ICSC’s survey found that nearly three-quarters of BTS shoppers said they will spend more this year than in 2017. On average, this year’s back-to-school consumer will spend $812.

About 40% of BTS shoppers will use click-and-collect, representing a significant increase from the 30% who used it in 2017. The survey found that 96% of BTS shoppers who already used click-and-collect bought additional items when in-store picking up their online orders.

The No. 1 reason for shopping in-store is the ability to physically see, touch or try-on the merchandise, according to the ICSC survey. No. 2 is better prices, good deals and promotions. ICSC based its findings on a representative poll of 1,000 adults conducted in mid-July.

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).