RetailMeNot

Fireworks for the Fourth may just be cooling off, but RetailMeNot has issued its “2019 Guide to Prime Day and Back to School,” indicating that shoppers are hunting for deals earlier than ever. The online savings portal predicts that 250 retailers, a 30% increase, will participate in Amazon Prime Day-related promotions this year—which kicks off the back-to-school shopping season July 15-16.

Further, according to Deloitte’s annual “Back-to-School Survey,” spending for the occasion will reach $27.8 billion this year, averaging $519 per student in households buying clothing, supplies, computers and electronics for children in grades K to 12.

“Now in its anticipated fifth year, Prime Day has morphed into something bigger than just a big sales day for Amazon: It has become a new holiday for the retail industry with deals and offers from several hundred retailers who are also looking to increase sales,” RetailMeNot says in its report.

Among more than 200 senior managers and directors and retailers interviewed by the company, 84% said the week of Prime Day is the most important time for driving online sales during the entire back-to-school shopping season. Next are the first weekend of August and Labor Day weekend third. Meanwhile, 1,031 parents surveyed said they plan to spend an average of $507 during the three-month back-to-school shopping period.

Further, 64% of parents will be shopping on Prime Day in 2019, planning to spend $162 during the event—with an average of 35% of their back-to-school shopping dedicated to Amazon. Additionally, RetailMeNot data reveals the number of Prime Day-related offers rose 45% in 2018: “Consumers have caught on to the savings available across retailers,” the report says.

“With the back-to-school shopping season starting with Prime Day, all retailers have an opportunity to capture early sales by participating in Prime-related promotions,” notes Michelle Skupin, RetailMeNot’s Senior Director of Marketing & Communications. “Over the last few years, data has shown an increase across the board in participating retailers, and consumers are ready to take advantage of the deals.”

Looking at specific school purchases, Deloitte’s report says that spending on electronics and gadgets (smartphones, tablets, wearables) is set to rise $800 million, a 29% increase over 2018. Consumers planning to purchase these items (22%) intend to spend an average of $305 on them. Despite the popularity of Amazon Prime Day, 56% of back-to-school purchases will continue to occur in stores (56%)—although online is gaining ground, with 29% of spending, up from 23% last year. “The increase reflects a shift online among individuals who were previously undecided between online and in-store,” the report says.

Overall, use of personal computers for back-to-school shopping is down from 49% in 2018 to 42% of respondents in 2019, with 60% turning to their smartphones this year, primarily to visit a retailer’s website (54%), obtain price information (51%) and look for discounts/promotions (51%).

As RetailMeNot also reported, price remains the most important criteria for back-to-school shoppers, according to Deloitte’s data. The top two considerations when deciding where to shop are sales and discounts (69%); and competitive prices (57%).

Mass merchant stores remain dominant, with nearly 90% of respondents planning to visit these retailers for back-to-school shopping. Notably, online-only retailers have replaced dollar stores as the No. 2 destination (dollar stores held the second-place ranking for the past two years).

Clothing and accessories account for more than half of back-to-school spending (54%), followed by school supplies (22%), electronic gadgets (13%) and computers and hardware (11%).