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Walmart, Target Dominate Back-to-School Shopping Season

By Dennis Kaiser

Retail shopping trends have followed along traditional seasons, anchored by the holiday buying extravaganza that often carries a retailer across the highs and lows of a year. Beyond that major consumer spree, other buying seasons have served to bridge gaps between peaks, spread out consumer spending over longer periods of time and give retailers time to recover until the next big holiday season.

Given the recent earnings announcements from Target and other department stores, JLL’s James Cook shares the findings of JLL’s 2019 Back to School Consumer Survey. The 2019 BTS survey recently polled 1,000 parents of school-age children to find out how they intended to shop for the back-to-school season. The findings are timely, as kids head back to the classroom and of interest given many retailers recently-released earnings.

Walmart and Target once again far outstripped the competition. Cook writes, “More than half of parents specified Walmart, largely because of their low prices. In contrast, 44% chose Target, mainly because of affordable prices and wide selection.”

Interestingly, many parents plan to visit both Target and Walmart. Amazon ranked as the third most popular back-to-school destination, thanks to its good deals, wide selection and ease of shopping.

Shopping location was determined by the grade-level students were entering. Walmart wasthe most popular for elementary, middle school and high school, while Target took the top spot for parents with college-level kids, notes Cook.

Parents plan to spend more on back-to-school items this year, too. JLL reports, roughly 54.9% of parents will spend less than $250 on back-to-school shopping, compared to 61.4% last year. Additionally, 25.8% will spend between $250 and $500, whereas in 2018, 21.9% budgeted this much. There are also more high-spenders in 2019, with 19.3% budgeting more than $500, compared to only 16.7% last year.

The JLL survey found department stores grew in popularity over 2018. “Thanks to their affordable prices, discount department stores such as Walmart and Target were again the most popular store type, with 71.3% of parents planning to shop there for back to school,” writes Cook. Less than half of parents (41.4%) plan to visit online stores and marketplaces for their shopping lists. Compared to 2018, more parents plan to shop at department stores (nearly one-third (31.6%) of parents this year, compared to 29.3% last year). The clear favorite in the category, with nearly half (44.3%) of the parents who named a department store among their top three retailers was JC Penney.

When parents were asked to name specific retailers they plan to visit, a whopping 95.7% named a mass merchandiser among their top three retailers. Walmart and Target once again far outstrip the competition. More than half of parents specified Walmart, largely because of their low prices. 44% chose Target, with many parents indicating they plan to visit both Target and Walmart. Amazon ranked as the third most popular back-to-school destination.

Connect Direct-to-Consumer is coming up this month at San Jose’s Santana Row. Get more information and register for the September 26th event on this link.

Download JLL’s Back-to-School Report

Connect With JLL’s Cook


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For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Dennis Kaiser

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Inside The Story

About Dennis Kaiser

Dennis Kaiser is Vice President of Content and Public Relations for Connect Commercial Real Estate. Dennis is a communications leader with more than 30 years of experience including as a journalist and in corporate and agency integrated marketing communications roles. He is responsible for Connect’s client content operations and public relations strategy. He is involved in a range of initiatives ranging from content strategy, message development, copywriting, Social Media and content marketing services. Dennis’s communications background in the real estate industry includes working with many of the top real estate firms – from brokerage companies, developers, homebuilders, investors, owners, lawyers, asset advisors, lenders, architects and property management firms. • Marketed more than 1 Billion Square Feet of Office Space • 70,000 Multifamily/Condo Units • 15,000 Single Family Homes • 30 Million Square Feet of Retail Space • Representing Roughly $100 Billion in Investment In his most recent corporate communications roles, he led a regional public relations effort across Southern California for CBRE, played a key marketing role on JLL’s national retail team, and was responsible for directing the global public relations effort at ValleyCrest, the nation’s largest commercial landscape services company. Dennis’s agency background on integrated communications teams at many reputable agencies and has earned an outstanding reputation with organization leaders as a trusted advisor, strategic program implementer, consensus builder and exceptional collaborator. He formerly was President of the Public Relations Society of America’s Los Angeles of public relations professional, and served on the Board of Directors. He also taught a public relations extension course at Loyola Marymount University. Dennis’s has developed and managed national communications programs for Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, both public and private. He’s successfully worked with journalists across the globe representing clients involved in major-breaking news stories, product launches, media tours, and company news announcements.

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