Ecommerce for the Back-​to-​School Season Will Grow 14.8%

BY Courtney Huckabay

Retail sales during the back-​to-​school shopping season of July and August 2017 will grow 4% over 2016, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast. Last year set a record for back-​to-​school season sales, but 2017 will be even better. U.S. retail sales during those core months will reach an estimated $857.18 billion, accounting for 17% of total retail sales for the year, the editors at eMarketer report.

"Ecommerce for the back-​to-​school season will grow 14.8% to $74.03 billion in 2017. That represents 8.6% of total back-​to-​school retail sales—online and offline—for the period, up from the 7.8% share last year."

Ecommerce growth this year comes on top of a strong year in 2016, making it that much more impressive,” said eMarketer senior analyst Yory Wurmser. “Younger consumers that shop in preparation for going back to high school and college actually prefer shopping online, so ecommerce growth should continue for the foreseeable future.”

Back to School Shoppers likely will be scouring the internet for the best prices and deals. It's a good time for marketers to focus on SEO rankings and SEM ad campaigns. The new AudienceSCAN survey showed 38.5% of Back to School Shoppers took action based on sponsored search results (like on Google, Yahoo or Bing) in the past 30 days.

eMarketer breaks down five product areas playing an outsized role during the back-​to-​school season:

  • Apparel and accessories
  • Books, music and video
  • Computers and consumer electronics
  • Office equipment and supplies
  • Toys and hobbies, including sporting goods

"Back-​to-​school ecommerce sales in these core categories during July and August will exceed the quarterly growth rate for ecommerce overall at 15.8%, reaching $37.56 billion. It will also be in marked contrast to the poor growth numbers of brick-​and-​mortar stores in these core areas."

Retailers can feature the key items above in online video ads. The new AudienceSCAN study found 28% of Back to School Shoppers viewed a television commercial on YouTube in the past 6 months.

Several core product areas are among the sectors with the highest ecommerce penetration,” Wurmser said. “Even apparel, which traditionally has been bought in stores, is increasingly moving online.”

it is more important than ever for traditional retailers — large and small — to advertise their ecommerce products. Shoppers are buying them online and on the go! The new AudienceSCAN survey showed 47.5% of Back to School Shoppers purchased a product online in the past 6 months, using smartphones, tablets or other mobile devices.

"eMarketer excludes home goods from its definition of core back-​to-​school product categories despite the big role that dorm shopping plays in back-​to-​school sales. Although important, home goods do not see a significant bump in sales during the season relative to other parts of the year."

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.