Back-to-School Shopping Preview 2017: Strong Overall Sales Hide Weakness in Key Sectors - eMarketer
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Back-to-School Shopping Preview 2017: Strong Overall Sales Hide Weakness in Key Sectors

eMarketer Report

By: eMarketer

Published: June 29, 2017

Jump to: Executive Summary | Table of Contents | List of Charts

Executive Summary

eMarketer expects a strong back-to-school season for 2017, with overall retail sales increasing 4.0% and retail ecommerce sales jumping 14.8%. Although topline numbers show healthy online and offline growth, a dive into the core back-to-school sectors shows the continuing shift to ecommerce, albeit with the majority of back-to-school shopping still occurring in-store.

  • Despite overall US retail sales experiencing healthy growth in 2017, key sectors are suffering, including office supply and stationery stores, which saw sales drop 7.3% in Q1; clothing and accessory stores, which slipped 2.2%; and electronics and appliance stores, which fell 3.8%.
  • Most growth in total retail sales for 2017 will come from gas stations, building supplies and auto dealers.
  • Nearly one-third of US parents make a back-to-school purchase via a smartphone, and one-quarter use their phones to research or compare prices of such purchases.
  • The two leading online and offline retailers for back-to-school shopping are Amazon and Walmart, and this season should see heated competition between the two.
  • The timing of the back-to-school season varies, with the earliest bump coming around college acceptance letters and graduation when it comes to purchasing electronics and dorm supplies, and the latest coming for apparel after school starts.
  • Back-to-school shopping has multiple decision-makers: parents, students, teachers and peers. Price is important for all groups, but parents focus more on practicality while students center on style. Retailers need to segment their messaging strategy accordingly.

"Although growth in total US retail sales during the back-to-school season has fluctuated since 2013, ecommerce sales growth has remained remarkably consistent."

Table of Contents

eMarketer’s Back-to-School Forecast 2017

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Mobile Commerce Inexorably Grows

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Battle Between Amazon and Walmart Heats Up

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Timing of the Season

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Multiple Decision-Makers

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40 charts are included in the full report:

Back-to-School Shopping Preview 2017: Strong Overall Sales Hide Weakness in Key Sectors

US Retail and Retail Ecommerce* Back-to-School Season Sales Growth, 2013-2017 (% change)

eMarketer’s Back-to-School Forecast 2017

US Holiday Season Spending, by Holiday, 2016 & 2017 (billions)

US Mother Mobile Device Users' Expected Change in Back-to-School Spending, May 2017 (% of respondents)

US Back-to-College Retail Spending, 2010-2016 (billions)

US Retail Sales, Q1 2016-Q4 2017 (trillions and % change vs. same quarter of prior year)

US Retail Back-to-School Season Sales, 2013-2017

Ecommerce Sales Will Soar

US Retail Ecommerce Sales, 2016-2021 (billions, % change and % of total retail sales)

US Retail Ecommerce Sales, Q1 2016-Q4 2017 (billions and % change vs. same quarter of prior year)

US Retail Ecommerce Back-to-School Season Sales, 2013-2017

Key Product Categories

US Retail Ecommerce Back-to-School Season Sales in Core Product Categories*, 2016 & 2017 (billions and % change)

US Retail Ecommerce Sales Growth, by Product Category, 2016-2021 (% change)

Average Planned Back-to-School/Back-to-College Spending Among US Parent Internet Users, by Product Category and Education Level of Child, June 2016

Product Categories that US Mother Mobile Device Users Are Likely to Purchase for Back-to-School, May 2017 (% of respondents)

Back-to-School Products that US Parent Internet Users Plan to Purchase In-Store vs. Digitally, June 2016 (% of respondents)

Back-to-College Product Categories that US Parent vs. College Student Internet Users Prefer to Purchase In-Store vs. Digitally, June 2016 (% of respondents)

Amount of Back-to-College Shopping that US College Student Mobile Phone Users Expect to Conduct Digitally, June 2016 (% of respondents)

Occasions/Holidays for Which US Parent Internet Users Prefer to Shop In-Store, July 2016 (% of respondents)

Reasons that US Parent Internet Users Plan to Conduct Back-to-School Shopping In-Store, July 2016 (% of respondents)

Mobile Commerce Inexorably Grows

Ecommerce Site Traffic Share in the UK, the US and Worldwide, by Device, Q4 2015-Q4 2016 (% of total on Monetate's network)

US Smartphone Retail Mcommerce Sales, 2016-2021 (billions, % change and % of total retail mcommerce sales)

US Retail Mcommerce Sales, 2016-2021

US Teen and Millennial Digital Shoppers Who Primarily Make Digital Purchases via Smartphone, by Age, Aug 2016 (% of respondents in each group)

US Parent Internet Users Who Plan to Use a Smartphone When Back-to-School Shopping, July 2016 (% of respondents)

Ways in Which US Parent Smartphone Owners Plan to Use a Smartphone When Back-to-School Shopping, July 2016 (% of respondents)

Ways in Which US College Student Smartphone vs. Tablet Owners Plan to Use Their Device to Assist with Back-to-College Shopping, June 2016 (% of respondents)

Battle Between Amazon and Walmart Heats Up

Retailers Where US Mother Mobile Device Users Plan to Purchase School Supplies for Back-to-School, In-Store vs. Digitally*, May 2017 (% of respondents)

Amazon Prime Day Sales Worldwide, 2015 & 2016 (billions)

Demographic Profile of US Amazon Prime Members, March 2017 (% of total)

Shipping/Delivery Options that US Internet Users Plan to Use for Back-to-School* vs. Back-to-College** Purchases, July 2016 (% of respondents)

Timing of the Season

US Graduation Gift Spending, 2011-2017 (billions)

Timeframe in Which US Parent Internet Users Plan to Begin Back-to-School Shopping, July 2016 (% of respondents)

Time of Year When US Internet Users Plan to Conduct Most of Their Back-to-School Shopping, July 2016 (% of respondents)

US Peak Google Search Interest for Select Back-to-School Products, 2016 (Google Trends search index*)

Amount of Back-to-School Shopping that US Mother Mobile Device Users Plan to Conduct During the Tax-Free Holiday, May 2017 (% of respondents)

Multiple Decision-Makers

Extent to Which Their Children Influence Back-to-School Purchases According to US Mother Mobile Device Users, by Product Category, May 2017 (% of respondents)

Primary Factor that Influences Back-to-School Purchase Decisions According to Parent Digital Buyers in North America, by Product Category, July 2016 (% of respondents)

Extent to Which US Mother Mobile Device Users Plan to Follow a School-Provided Shopping List When Back-to-School Shopping, May 2017 (% of respondents)

Primary Factor that Determines When US Parent Internet Users Begin Back-to-School/Back-to-College Shopping, June 2016 (% of respondents)

Sources that Influence Back-to-School/Back-to-College Apparel Purchase Decisions According to Internet Users in North America, June 2016 (% of respondents)

Different Messaging for Different Crowds

Preference for Snapchat vs. Instagram Stories Among US Snapchat/Instagram Users, by Demographic, Feb 2017 (% of respondents)