August 17, 2012
Back in the ‘80s, around this time of year, my mom would pack my brother and me into the backseat of the family sedan and make the 90-minute pilgrimage to the big city… Sioux Falls, S.D. It was a day filled with shopping delights that inevitably turned into an all-too-familiar horror story of fights and loathing.
Back-to-school shopping was very different back then. My mom would take an inventory of everything we might need: shirts, jeans, jackets, shoes, socks, undies, No. 2 pencils, notepads, Trapper Keepers (hello?), backpack… the gamut. She’d scour the Sears and JC Penney catalogs. We’d hit the road, and you can bet that if a store at The Empire Mall had a sale sign in the window, we were there.
Fast forward to today and the back-to-school shopping experience is an entirely different animal. In what has become the second-most important selling season for many retailers, pulling out all the stops on sales and promotions is paramount. But needless to say, they simply aren’t as dependent on the family trip to the local mall any longer. A few interesting statistics:
As shopping trends continue to evolve, it will be interesting to see how much online and smartphone shopping affects the brick and mortar experience.
But Mama Fransen can take heart… her old faves like Penney’s and Sears may just survive a while longer. While the NRF’s stats point to continued increases in consumers’ online spending, another set of facts tells a somewhat different story. Oddly, catalog shopping has tripled among college-age shoppers since 2003. Meanwhile, 60 percent of shoppers are hitting up chain department stores this year.