Back-to-School Retail Sales to Grow 2.6% This Year - eMarketer

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Back-to-School Retail Sales to Grow 2.6% This Year

Ecommerce will continue double-digit gains

June 7, 2016

Many kids may still be wrapping up the current school year, but retailers are already gearing up for the back-to-school shopping season. This year, back-to-school retail sales will reach $828.81 billion, according to eMarketer’s latest retail and ecommerce forecast.

US Retail Back-to-School Season Sales, 2012-2016

The 2016 back-to-school shopping season, which eMarketer defines as July and August, will grow 2.6% over last year. That’s a larger growth rate than in 2015, but smaller than in previous years. Back-to-school sales have represented a static share of total retail sales, both for the year and for Q3, over the past several years.

“We are seeing back-to-school sales increasingly slipping into other parts of the year, as consumers become trained to wait for promotions,” said eMarketer forecasting director Monica Peart. “Some people are even waiting until the school year has begun to do their back-to-school shopping.”

The ecommerce portion of back-to-school sales will continue its strong growth, jumping another 15.3% this year to $65.42 billion. That represents 7.9% of total retail sales for the period, the highest portion since since eMarketer began tracking the category.

US Retail Ecommerce Back-to-School Season Sales, 2012-2016

“Ecommerce is in the midst of a remarkable run of growth,” said eMarketer retail analyst Yory Wurmser. “The pace of commerce moving online is actually increasing, and that should be apparent this back-to-school season even for some sectors of retail that traditionally have remained primarily offline, such as home goods and school supplies.”

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