10 Insights that Make the Grade: Back to School Shopping with 500 Moms

28 Jul, 2015 Field Agent Retail Audit

10 Insights that make the grade: Back to School Shopping with 500 Moms Infographic

Behind most K-12 students is a mom: providing direction on everything from what their little students wear to school to what goes in those crumply brown bag lunches. And while they're a force at-retail 365 days a year, moms hold particular sway and importance during the critical Back-to-School shopping season. This weekend Field Agent surveyed 500 moms of K-12 students, to explore their thoughts on back-to-school planning, shopping, and spending. Here are 10 fast and important insights to help your company "make the grade" this Back-to-School shopping season. 

Two numbers. Both with huge implications for retailers and brands:

$630.36 – Down from $669.28 last year, this figure represents the average amount families with children K-12 will spend on back-to-school shopping in 2015 (National Retail Federation). To put such numbers in perspective, consider that the average family spent $861 on Christmas gifts in 2014 (American Research Group). 

$24.9 billion – The total amount Americans will spend back-to-school shopping this year (NRF).

Big numbers...and even bigger stakes for retailers and brands.

See also: What Really Frustrates Back to School Shoppers? 500 Moms Speak Out

Want to earn an A+ this year for your in-store Q3 and Q4 execution? Mobile auditing from Field Agent is the perfect study partner.

Back-To-School Insights Infographic And, naturally, behind much of this back-to-school spending, millions of moms are pulling the reins.

This weekend Field Agent took occasion to survey 500 mothers of K-12 children about their families' back-to-school planning, shopping, and spending.

See our post from last year: The Facts About Back-to-School Tax Holidays

Here are 10 "gold star" insights for Back-to-School 2015. And as only Mom can make it. See also the infographic below.

1. The vast majority of families must save for BTS. 88% of households in our survey said they would save (or have saved) for back-to-school shopping this year. 42% indicated they had saved for 1-3 months, while 40% reported saving for less than one month.

2. Most families associate some financial strain with BTS shopping. 79% of families more or less agreed with the statement: “Back-to-school shopping is a strain on my personal budget.” Indeed, 20% said they “strongly agreed” with the statement. Only 13% disagreed in one way or another. 

3. School-furnished supplies lists are a critical factor in BTS shopping decisions. 88% of K-12 families use a school-furnished list to guide their back-to-school supply purchases. So much of BTS success is literally...making the list. 

4. Kids exert comparatively strong influence over BTS apparel decisions. Results from our survey show kids influence their parents’ spending on back-to-school purchases, but to varying degrees depending on the type of merchandise. For instance, 53% of moms reported that their children “strongly influence” BTS clothing and footwear purchases, whereas only 26% strongly influence school supply purchases. 

5. Families take advantage but don't make the most of BTS sales tax holidaysOf families living in states offering BTS tax holidays, 11% said they’d shop back-to-school exclusively during the holiday. However, altogether, 67% indicated they would make at least some purchases during their state's tax holiday, while 33% said the tax holiday would not influence the timing of their BTS purchases.  

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6. Fruit tops the list of most common "packed lunch" foods. For the second year in a row, fresh/packaged fruit won our survey. This year, 86% of applicable moms said they’d include fruit in their kids’ packed lunches. The top five was rounded out by: sandwich/wrap with meat (75%), salty snacks (e.g., potato chips; 73%), dairy-based foods (e.g., cheese, yogurt; 69%), and packaged sweet snacks (63%).

7. Moms say the price, more than anything else, must be right. We asked moms to rank four potential priorities by their importance when shopping for school supplies: brand name, convenience, price, and quality. Price topped the list, with 276 of 500 moms (55%) assigning it first place in the ranking. Quality, brand name, and in-store convenience came in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place, respectively.  

8. Shopping for school supplies is a multi-store endeavor. Significantly, according to our survey, only 7% of households will visit just one store to purchase their school supplies this year. The majority (60%) said they’ll visit 2-3 stores. Impressively, 24% will shop 4-5 stores and 9% 5 or more stores.

9. Families do shop online for school supplies, but continue to do most shopping in stores. 25% of households said they'll purchase 1-5% of their school supplies online in 2015. 11% said they’ll purchase between 6-10% online. However, 41% will not make any supplies purchases online. 

10. Big box stores are first in moms' minds for BTS supplies shopping. We asked moms to identify every store they're planning to purchase school supplies from this year. From their responses, the top 5 stores for buying school supplies are as follows: Wal-Mart (87% said they’ll purchase at least some supplies from this store); Target (76%); Staples (33%); Walgreens (30%); and Dollar Tree (29%). 

How Retailers & Brands Make the Grade 

With the critical Back-to-School shopping season already upon us, and with other enormously important shopping seasons right around the corner, there's no better time to make sure you’re getting the most of your in-store investments. We have more than 500,000 agents ready at a minute’s notice to be your eyes and ears in stores across the country.

Display audits? You go it. Modular compliance? Easy. Price checks, out-of-stocks, competitive analysis? Yes, yes, and yes.

Mobile Audits from Field Agent: Fast, affordable, far-reaching.

See Also: How Retail Agencies Build Authority with Mobile Audits

Get Answers to Your Back-to-School Retail Execution