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Survey: Consumers to spend $300 on back-to-school

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — A survey released Tuesday by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman-Sachs found that 42% of U.S. consumers expect to spend more on back-to-school items this year than they did in 2011.

With the back-to-school shopping season already well underway as one-third of households reported that they have begun to shop, ICSC and Goldman-Sachs expect the average household expenditure on all types of back-to-school items will be about $300 this year.

Forty-four percent plan to spend the same amount as last year, while only 14% indicated they would spend less. Of the 42% of consumers that plan to increase spending, nearly half indicated that it was due to a need to replace wardrobes and school supplies.

“Despite the relatively soft economic conditions over the last quarter, consumers view back-to-school merchandise as essential, which is likely a key reason that so many consumers plan to increase spending this year,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC VP research and chief economist. “Even more encouraging for retailers is that nearly 20% of respondents plan to increase spending by more than 10% compared with the 2011 season. Looking ahead, the industry should continue to see increases in sales as the intensity in back-to-school season shopping heats up next month.”

The majority of expected spending will be done in August as 65% of households reported that is when they will commence back-to-school shopping.

The number one item that consumers need for the coming school year is school supplies (88%), followed by apparel (79%). They plan to buy that merchandise at discount stores (83%), office supply stores (46%), and traditional department stores (44%).

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Mercom says:
Jul-18-2012 07:37 pm

It sure is a busy time of year for retailers involved with any back-to-school sales or trading. We've used this article and the statistics in it for a blog post, where we highlight whether the stores and the personnel in charge of their POS and systems are on top of the technology, should any disruption dent their performance. We welcome all readers and any comments on the subject: http://www.mercomrepair.com/POS_technology_repair_blog/bid/148971/Are-you-schooled-in-the-art-of-effective-POS-hardware-repair Thanks again, Paul at Mercom

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Survey: Nearly one-third of DCs are entirely outsourced

BY Marianne Wilson

Raleigh, N.C. — Nearly one-third of distribution centers (DCs) are entirely outsourced, according to the Supply Chain Metrics Report by the Tompkins Supply Chain Consortium.

“Supply Chain Consortium data indicates that while many companies continue to have their own DCs staffed by their own employees, there is an upward trend in the percentage of DC buildings and labor being outsourced in the past two years,” said Bruce Tompkins, executive director of the Consortium and author of the report. “This increase signifies that more organizations are considering outsourced DCs over ones that are company-owned and operated.”

With responses from more than 100 companies across nine industries, the report reveals key metrics on annual logistics costs, DC operations, finished goods inventory turns, on-time delivery, transportation sourcing solutions and more.

Additional findings include:

  • Inbound transportation metrics average 4.7% as a percentage of cost of goods sold and 2.4% as a percentage of net sales;
  • Total annual logistics cost as a percentage of net sales ranges from 4.1% to 10.0%;
  • On-time delivery by mode ranges from 79% for ocean to 97% for parcel and air freight; and
  • Most companies have more than half of their total logistics resources in distribution, customer service and transportation.

For more information, download the Supply Chain Metrics Report at: Tompkinsinc.com/bbp-report/2012/supply-chain-metrics-data-for-you-to-compare-against

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Americans use smartphones before, during and after in-store visits

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Toronto, Ontario, Canada — A recent survey of more than 6,500 U.S. consumers found that Americans consult their social media apps before, during and after retail store visits.

The survey, conducted by customer experience management solution-provider Empathica, found that mobile and social customer experience strategies are becoming more important than ever for brands, with nearly three in four consumers using Facebook to make retail and restaurant decisions.

The findings also showed that 27% of smartphone owners consult reviews before making purchases, and another 55% use their mobile devices to check prices while shopping in-store. Other popular mobile actions include scanning a QR code (34%) and writing a review (9%).

“Today’s consumers routinely perform a variety of in-store activities on smartphones and mobile devices,” said Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer, Empathica. “Whether it’s comparing prices or scanning a QR code for a discount, brands that ignore the use of mobile technology in customer and guest experiences will miss key opportunities to connect with a large pool of potential brand advocates.”

The Empathica Consumer Insights Panel also showed that consumers are relying on social media as an important tool in decision-making. Nearly three-quarters of consumers use Facebook to make retail or restaurant decisions, while half of consumers have tried a new brand due to a social media recommendation.

For retailers and restaurants that post all user-generated content online, negative reviews don’t necessarily dissuade consumers from trying a brand, especially if it has a generally positive online presence. Only 26% of consumers indicated that they would definitely avoid shopping at a store if they first read a negative online review.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • More than a third of survey respondents (37%) have visited a brand’s webpage using a mobile phone;
  • Although 55% of consumers are willing to “like” brands on Facebook, women (64%) tend to use the “like” button more than men (47%); and
  • Approximately 89% of people who have shared a positive experience with a brand via social media in the last three months also “liked” a brand on Facebook; only 36% of those who have not shared a positive experience with a brand via social media in the last three months “liked” a brand on Facebook.

Eighty-two percent of consumers are willing to engage retail and restaurant brands in online conversations if they believe it will improve future experiences, but only 62% believe that brands monitor online conversations and just 30% think that brands act on customer feedback.

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