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Despite Projected Doldrums, Back-To-School Means ‘Back-To-Store’

Nearly nine in 10 respondents with at least one child attending kindergarten to 12th grade this fall said they would buy school supplies in-store only, eMarketer reminds retailers.

back to school in the easiestAfter dire warnings of a slow shopping season by parents and kids, brick-and-mortar businesses counting on back-to-school sales to drive their summer revenue can take comfort in some reassuring stats from eMarketer that say in-store still counts more than digital.

In an overview of recent studies from consultants like Deloitte and programmatic ad sales engine Rubicon Project, eMarketer points to consumer surveys that found nearly nine in 10 people with at least one child attending kindergarten to high school this fall said they would buy school supplies at a physical store only.

In addition, the same July survey found that eight in 10 say they exclusively shop at brick-and-mortar stores for shoes, while more than seven in 10 are in-store only shoppers when it comes to backpacks, book bags, and lunch boxes. And if July seems too early to gauge back-to-school shopping plans, eMarketer notes that consumers generally say they start looking at products at least two months before their kids head back to the classroom.

Overall, eMarketer found that two-thirds intended to make separate fashion items strictly at brick-and-mortars, though the researcher suggests most people would ultimately mix their digital and physical shopping when it comes to school-related purchases.

Among the other advice and projections GeoMarketing has collected over the past few weeks related to back-to-school shopping, here’s a sampler:

Absolutdata CEO Anil Kaul on what retailers actually face: “According to the National Retail Federation, “US consumers are expected to spend about $68 billion on back-to-school and back-to-college items this year, down by 9.3 percent as compared to $75 billion last year. The decline seems to be across the board, with many retail chains slashing prices and coming up with sales promotions, yet still not garnering much success. One of the main reasons associated with this decline is the changing needs and aspirations of this generation. Instead of restocking apparels, parents have invested a good some of money in buying high-priced electronic gadgets and school supplies keeping in mind the fluctuating economic conditions.”

sale for back-to-schoolJC Penney attempts to ‘Bend The Trend: ’“When it comes to back-to-school marketing, we know we need to direct our efforts toward the teen,” JCPenney rep said. “They’re the ones making the decision about what they wear. At the same time, however, we have a ‘value message’ aimed at moms, since they are the ones with the pocket book. It’s a combined message.” The title and theme that will be underlying that message throughout the summer and fall is “Bend The Trend.” The idea is to encourage “individuality,” and above all, a positive attitude via JCPenney’s clothing and the social media sharing and commenting the retailer is sponsoring.

Forever 21 and Breakfast mix physical and digital: “This effort promotes further engagement with its followers, its shoppers,” Breakfast’s Zolty said of the Threadscreen selfie showcase it created for the brand’s Instagram promotion. “At the end of the day, the big goal not about getting attention for this targeted thing. The hope and goal of most of our work is always to make something that appeals to a very broad audience while still personal. ThreadScreen is meant to create awareness about [Forever 21’s] stores and its brand, and its back-to-school campaign, all in a very individual way.”

Eyeview’s summer marketing school survey: All schooling is local: 66 percent of students and 74 percent of parents say ads for a nearby store are the most likely to drive a back-to-school purchase, signaling the importance of geo-targeting. This is more impactful than retargeting products, chosen by only 34 percent of students and 26 percent of parents.; Shopping is personal: 40 percent of students and 45 percent of parents say some form of personalization in an ad is what grabs their attention—for example an ad for products they like or that calls out a nearby store; Online-to-offline attribution: While 49 percent of students and 82 percent of parents make at least half their back-to-school purchases in-store, a large percentage — 40 percent of students and 66 percent of parents — browse online first, signaling the importance of driving online browsers to stores. Only 19.6 percent of students and 17.7 percent of parents make at least half their purchases online.