Holiday Shopping Trends


Based on Back-to-School Shopping Insights

by Tina Manzer

The immense amount of data that’s collected from smartphones, sensor networks and other “connected” devices is one the most significant byproducts of the digital revolution. Distilling meaning from big data has become big business, and companies that do it can provide retailers with invaluable insights, like shopper age and gender, what consumers are buying, their income level, how tall they are, their shoe size, what sports activities they like, their veteran status, etc. Information like that can help you stock, merchandise and market your store to your specific target.

Here are just a few of the insights that data revealed about the back-to-school shopping season. Brands targeting parents, like specialty toy stores, will find them useful as they prepare for the fast-approaching holiday season.

Dads are shopping with kids

Near, an AI-powered platform that crunches mobility data from 1.6 billion devices globally, recently studied the real-world behavior of parents shopping for back-to-school. While most of us think moms are the ones accompanying children shopping for backpacks, notebooks, pencil holders, dorm room supplies, and clothes, dads took over this year. Smriti Kataria, Near’s vice president of marketing, says that the trend goes against what the six-year-old company has tracked in the past.

Near’s new data revealed that Pottery Barn’s Dallas, San Francisco and Los Angeles stores all saw more male than female visitors during the back-to-school season. Males accounted for more than half (54 percent) of visitors to Nordstrom’s store in Dallas, too. During the same time, more than half of Kohl’s shoppers – nearly 60 percent – were men.

The data also suggests that everyone loves a deal – even people in the nation’s most prosperous neighborhoods. This year, Target and TJ Maxx were favorites during back-to-school. Target saw the highest traffic at its Beverly Hills store in Los Angeles. Its Chicago Lincoln Park location came in second.

For TJ Maxx, the highest footfalls were at its store in New York’s Upper West Side. That location accounted for half of the entire chain’s footfalls during the school shopping season, Near reports.

Half of dads with kids under 18 had planned to take part in back-to-school shopping, says fan engagement platform Social Toaster. When they did, they spent 10-percent more (about $700) for back-to-school purchases compared to moms.

The Zs have a say in parent purchases

Members of Generation Z (young people born in 1995 and later, ranging from newborns to young adults) influence a significant number of household purchases and enjoy spending their own money, according to the latest issue of the Consumer View report from the National Retail Federation (NRF.)

“We’re seeing a shift in the way families shop,” notes NRF Vice President for Research Development and Industry Analysis Mark Mathews. “This year, during back-to-school shopping, teens and pre-teens were heavily involved with purchasing decisions and contributed significantly more of their own funds compared with a decade ago.” 

According to the report, 87 percent of parents say their children influence at least some aspect of their purchases, either for household items or for themselves. Gen Z is most likely to influence decisions on clothes, outings, toys and food purchases. They are also most likely to spend their own money on entertainment purchases such as apps, books/music and toys/games.

While Gen Zers might not always expect to be involved in family purchase decisions, their parents find it important to include them, for a variety of reasons.

• the children will be using the item (57 percent);

• their opinion matters to their parents (57 percent) and

• they need to learn decision-making skills (56 percent).

The most common time parents involve their children is at the front end of a purchase – when researching features and product reviews, and when they’re price checking or looking up product availability.

The report also found that Gen Zers influence different aspects of shopping including the specific brands parents consider (52 percent), product features that are important (48 percent) and the specific retailers to shop (41 percent).

“Shopping is a great way for parents to bond with their children, and parents want retailers to make it even easier to involve their children,” Mathews said. “As the industry continues to evolve, retailers have a huge opportunity to expand all-inclusive family shopping.”

Here are some other compelling back-to-school stats from Social Toaster.

• 91 percent of parents buy back-to-school items in-store. Expected in-store BTS spending is double that of expected online spend, according to Deloitte.

• 25 percent of parents consulted Facebook

for back-to-school shopping inspiration.

• 27 percent of back-to-school shoppers use Pinterest to organize their shopping lists.

• 89 percent of parents say that the availability of mobile coupons will determine where they shop.

• One-third of parents say they will be actively searching for coupons shopping in-store.

• Parents who bring their children with them for back-to-school shopping spend almost 33
percent more.

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