Early Back to School Shopping Survey: Early August Most Popular Time to Shop

Back to school shopping in 2017 may be taking place earlier than it has in years past. According to data from Deloitte and a report from CNBC, consumers are starting their back to school shopping earlier than ever this year. So retailers may need to adjust their marketing and sales strategies to suit those early shoppers. How many back to school shoppers have already started their shopping or plan to do so in the near future? And what factors drive their buying decisions? We asked 1,000 respondents about their back to school shopping plans and how they might compare to past shoppers.

school supplies

Back to School Shopping

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest online survey, 50% of respondents said that they are at least somewhat likely to do some back to school shopping, either for themselves or their family members. Of those respondents, 20% said they have already started their back to school shopping for the year. 23% said they are likely to start back to school shopping by the end of July. 41% plan to start their shopping in early August. 10% plan to start in late August. 1% don’t plan to start until September. And 4% are unsure of when they might start their back to school shopping this year.

In addition, just 2% of shoppers said they’ve already finished all of their back to school shopping for the year. 9% said they’re likely to be done with their back to school shopping by the end of July. 37% plan to finish all of their back to school shopping by early August. 32% plan to complete their shopping by the end of August. 11% think they’ll finish their shopping in September. And 9% are unsure. According to Personality Radar, the consumers who have already started their back to school shopping or who are likely to shop by the end of the month are established consumers who are interested in value purchases. But they also seem to be interested in trends.

Buying Decisions

In general, 94% of back to school shoppers said that they plan to shop for those items in stores. 63% said that they plan to shop online. 14% plan to shop on mobile devices. And just 2% are unsure of how they plan to do their back to school shopping. More specifically, consumers named Walmart, Target and Amazon as the most popular sources for their back to school purchases. Other popular stores include Staples, Office Depot, Dollar Tree and Kohl’s.

Additionally, general office supplies seem to be the most popular type of purchase for back to school shoppers; 82% of shoppers said they plan to purchase office supplies. 78% plan to buy clothing. 43% said they’re likely to buy books. 38% plan to purchase tech items. And 22% are likely to buy home or dorm items.

When considering back to school purchases, 44% said that price is their most important determining factor, while 22% think that the actual value or deals that they’re able to get on those items is more important. 20% care most about quality. 7% care about the functionality of the items. 3% value style and aesthetics. 2% care about convenience. And just 1% care most about brand name when it comes to their back to school purchases.

Past Shoppers

Overall, 69% of respondents said that they’ve shopped for back to school items many times in past years. And 14% have done so once or twice. Of those respondents, 24% said that they’ve usually done the bulk of their shopping in July or earlier in the year. 47% have done most of their back to school shopping in early August in past years. 20% said they’ve usually shopped in late August. And 3% have done so in September or later.

Key Takeaways

Retailers who haven’t started offering back to school products or promotions haven’t necessarily missed many shoppers by this point. But it does seem beneficial for stores to start focusing on those back to school shoppers in the near future. Early August is still the most popular time to shop. But if businesses want to target customers who are more interested in value than price, as well as those interested in new products and upcoming trends, it could be a good strategy to offer some promotions earlier in the summer. In addition, back to school shoppers do seem to be likely to shop in stores, as well as online. So in-store signage and displays in places where consumers already shop for other items could also be a good strategy.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: School supplies by Sergey Galyonkin under CC BY-SA 2.0

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on July 17 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.