Preschooler girl with books

School Days

By Rieva Lesonsky

Yes, I know we just celebrated the 4th of July, but if you’re a retailer, you should be getting ready for the back-to-school season. According to the latest research from Mintel, 52 percent of parents plan to spend more on back-to-school shopping this summer—only 4 percent plan to spend less.

Where’s the money going? Mintel says clothing accounts for the bulk of the spend (66 percent). Footwear (11 percent) is “a distant second,” with school supplies and electronics further back at 8 percent each.

The factors that influence what parents buy include recommendations by schools (43 percent), familiarity with products or brands (42 percent) and coupons (36 percent). Parents also pay attention to what their kids want—in fact, Mintel research shows parents give in 53 percent of the time when their kids ask them to buy them something. (This could be part of the stress 22 percent of parents say they experience when they shop for back-to-school items.)

Mintel advises retailers to “emphasize marketing back-to-school items that are the same [as] or similar to those that parents once used, [and] promote products for children that are developed by brands popular with adults.” They also recommend “promoting digital tools such as shopping registries and apps that provide schools’ recommended supply lists.”

High on parents’ wish list is free shipping: 48 percent of back-to-school shoppers want to see more of this option, with 20 percent wanting home delivery for items purchased in-store.