For stores located in malls and shopping centers around the Bay Area and beyond, the arrival of the back-to-school shopping season — and the presence of families stocking up on clothes and supplies — is a welcome one.
Despite news of store closures sweeping the country and retailers grappling with the growth of e-commerce, retail experts are expecting a strong period of spending on kids returning to school — and much of it will be done in brick-and-mortar stores.
Unlike other big retail seasons, the start of school marks a tradition of families shopping together to find just the right outfit, or sneakers, or backpack.
Among the throng of shoppers at the Stoneridge Shopping Center on Friday was Livermore resident Madeleine Mitchell, who brought her daughter Lily, 6, to shop before Lily starts first grade.
“I used to buy everything online when she was a baby,” Mitchell said, but as her daughter has grown older, they shop at stores because it’s an experience they can do together. “She’s old enough where she’s picking out stuff herself.”
A survey conducted by the National Retail Federation appeared to confirm that school shopping is often a family affair. with 65 percent of back-to-school shoppers saying that at least half of their purchases, and often more, are a direct result of their children’s influence.
According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, total spending for school and college combined is projected to reach $83.6 billion, its second-highest spending level on record and a 10 percent increase from last year’s $75.8 billion.
“Families are now in a state of mind where they feel a lot more confident about the economy,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay in a report from the federation. “With stronger employment levels and a continued increase in wages, consumers are spending more and we are optimistic that they will continue to do so throughout the rest of the year.”
Recent research has shown that a lot of that spending will be done in physical stores, helping malls and shopping centers hold their own against the disruption of online shopping.
A survey from Junior Achievement, a national organization that helps young people plan for economic success, found that 78 percent of parents plan to buy their children’s school supplies at traditional retail outlets this year, with only 8 percent planning to do so online, and 13 percent responding “don’t know/not applicable.”
“We’ve found that people do research (for their shopping) online, but with everything being immediate, there’s an ‘I want this now’ mentality, said Betsy Edwards, director of marketing and business development at the Stoneridge mall. “And people want to try things on and touch the products they’re buying.”
Edwards said the back-to-school shopping season is the next busiest for retailers behind the winter holidays. She said Friday she expected this weekend to be among the busiest shopping periods for Bay Area families as local students head back to school in the next couple of weeks.
Families with children in elementary through high school planned to spend an average of $687.72 each, according to the survey, while college students and their families planned to spend an average of $969.88. The money goes toward clothing, electronics, shoes, and school supplies like notebooks, backpacks and lunch boxes.
Audrey Prickett, 20, of Danville, is starting her fall semester at Diablo Valley College soon and was recently shopping for school supplies at Typo, a store at Stoneridge that sells notebooks, planners, and novelty stationary and gifts.
“I personally like to go to the store to pick out school supplies” instead of buying them online, Prickett said. “I like to see tangible items.”
It makes the shopping (and school) experience more fun when stores like Typo sell school items in a variety of colors and designs, Prickett said, holding up a metallic gold planner as she picked from a selection of colored pens.
Still, the types of brick and mortar stores that lure shoppers have shifted in recent years. Deloitte found in its own recent back-to-school shopping survey that 28 percent of respondents said they would shop at traditional department stores, down from 54 percent last year, and 81 percent of respondents plan to shop at mass merchants such as Walmart — an increase of 24 percent over last year. About 28 percent plan to shop at off-price stores, up from 10 percent in 2016.
And many people are combining the online and in-store experience. One shopper at the Pleasanton mall could be seen comparing prices of items in a store to what he could find on Amazon.
According to the International Council of Shopping Centers’ latest annual Back-To-School Spending survey, of the 81 percent of respondents who use their mobile devices while shopping in stores, 58 percent said they will use them to compare prices, 39 percent will download digital coupons, 38 percent will check inventory, and 30 percent will take pictures of items that they consider buying. Meanwhile, 30 percent of consumers said they intend to order from retailers online and pick them up in physical stores.
The competitive retail market was on full display as stores all over the Bay Area were advertising for back-to-school sales in the first two weeks of August, with many offering deep discounts.
“Back-to-school is one of the shopping seasons where we really find people looking for specific items at the best price,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers, in a news release. “Consumers are more informed than ever and research prices and products prior to making a purchase so it isn’t surprising that so many shoppers are waiting for sales and discounts before buying their back-to-school items.”
All Credit Goes To : Source link