How Retailers Can Blowout Back to School

It has been almost a year and a half since schools were closed across the country. Although there are many unknowns regarding the pandemic, families are trying to return to school in a way that is normal. Retailers are always busy at the beginning of school year.

We surveyed more than 23,000 students about their back-to school shopping plans as they prepare to return to the classroom. This was done to assist retailers and brands in navigating months of pandemic-related difficulties.

Omnichannel is here to stay

Online shopping has changed the way Americans shop for goods since the pandemic. While 92 percent of back-to school shoppers plan to shop in physical retail, 85 per cent will use their mobile devices to complement these shopping trips. They can compare prices and make purchases in the aisle. Retailers need to make sure that shoppers have access to mobile content, which is interactive and relevant. You can use QR codes to provide additional information such as size guides, lookbooks and nutritional facts. It is possible to make purchases and build loyalty by making content that can be accessed quickly at the point-of-discovery.

Are You Ready to Buy?

Back-to-school shopping is being undertaken by consumers with strong budgets. 42 percent of respondents reported that they planned to spend between $101 and $300 on items. These budgets will allow them to replenish supplies, as more than half (53%) of respondents) reported that they plan to spend between $101 and $300 on items this year. One-third of respondents increased their budgets because they needed new supplies (30%) and another third because they are returning to pre-pandemic buying habits (30%). They don’t know where they will spend this extra cash. Again, big-box retail wins. Nearly all (92%) of the 92 per cent of shoppers who intend to shop in-store for back-to school supplies will do so at big box stores. This surge in foot traffic should be anticipated by big-box retailers as well as their competitors.

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Shoppers Still Need Safety Supplies

More than 60% of consumers plan to spend their back-to school budgets on apparel. This will be followed by technology (10%) and dorm furniture (4%) in order to make up the year that was spent in pajamas. Consumers will be looking for safety and health materials as well as necessities. Nearly all shoppers plan to include COVID-19 safety supplies in their shopping carts (90%) – whether they are hand sanitizer (79%), cleaning wipes (71%), masks (61%), paper products (55%%) or disposable cutlery (21%) Retailers can reduce stress and increase brand loyalty by making sure that the products they need to return to school are easily accessible.

Americans are preparing for whatever the new school year brings. Retailers must maintain their omnichannel efforts to best support customers during this crucial shopping season. They should also keep shelves stocked to accommodate larger budgets and pay close attention to what the consumers want in this back-to school season.


Saks Fifth Avenue Partner, WeWork Partner for Co-Working Spaces at Saks Stores

Hudson’s Bay Co. is the owner of Saks Fifth Avenue. It will convert portions of certain department stores into coworking spaces. The companies announced that this will happen at a time in which many employees are looking for remote work options. Hudson’s Bay Co. will open five co-working spaces, called SaksWorks, in the New York Tri-State region, which includes the Saks Fifth Avenue Flagship. To target remote workers, the luxury retailer will open additional office spaces. The first locations will open in September.

Total Retail’s Turn: This merger brings together two parties who have had better days. Saks has faced difficulties with closing stores and lower foot traffic due to the pandemic. WeWork has struggled with an increase in work-from-home, which has adversely affected its occupancy rates. Saks is happy with the deal, as it can use space it doesn’t currently use in its stores to generate additional revenue. This is especially important as its traditional business moves online.

HBC announced SaksWorks as the new business. HBC noted that SaksWorks “represents HBC’s next step in its renowned track record in unlocking value across its real property portfolio with its first foray in to incubated ventures.” Richard Baker, HBC Executive Chairman, noted that HBC was not a retailer, but a forward-thinking holding company at “the intersection of technology and real estate.”

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