More college-aged back-to-school shoppers say they will buy from the mass merchant retail chains than from Amazon, a new study finds.

More back-to-school college shoppers plan to check out at Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. this year over Inc., according to a new study “Back to School 2017.”

Mobile platform provider Branding Brand conducted the study of 1,000 U.S. shoppers ages 18-24 between June 21-23.

The study found that 64% of shoppers plan to buy back-to-school products from Target (No. 20 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500), a 51% increase from the 2016 study; 64% plan to buy from Walmart (No. 3) this year, up from 42% last year, and 50% will buy from Amazon (No. 1), a decrease from the 74% who said they would buy from the web giant last year.

“Investments by Walmart and Target in apps and multichannel commerce are paying off with consumers who might have looked to the convenience of Amazon,” says Chris Mason, Branding Brand co-founder and CEO. “Retailers making a conscientious effort to bridge their digital strategies with how their customers want to shop can gain market share of what will continue to be a thriving e-commerce industry.”

For some shoppers, three stores will wrap up their entire back-to-school shopping needs, according to an online survey of 1,001 adults and 500 teens by market research firm Propeller Insights on behalf of coupon site Ebates.



Overall, 79% of shoppers plan to buy back-to-school products online, and 62% of all respondents expect to make those purchases on their smartphones, according to the Branding Brand study. It’s no surprise that this college-age group is buying more on their smartphones, Mason says.

“Mobile’s influence on shopping continues to grow, with two in three shoppers planning to make transactions from their smartphone, and people are purchasing in mobile shopping apps more often than other digital channels,” Mason says.


Even so, consumers’ offline spending on back-to-school will outpace their online spending, according to consulting and accounting firm Deloitte LLP, which surveyed 1,200 parents between May 31-June 6 with a child in kindergarten through grade 12.

The average consumer will spend $501 on back-to-school products in 2017, Deloitte finds. About 57% of that $501, or $288, will be spent in stores, 21% or $103 will be online and 22% or $111 consumers have not yet decided, according to the survey. Dollar figures are approximations, Deloitte says.



Of the average $501 spent on back-to-school items, 55% will go toward clothing and accessories, 20% will cover school supplies, 14% toward computers and hardware, and 9% for electronic gadgets. Compared with 2016, the clothing and accessories category increases its share of back-to-school spending, while the other three categories will receive less of the back-to-school spend, according to the study.

Though e-commerce may lag store spending, 56% of shoppers plan to research their purchases online before buying offline. Plus, 38% of shoppers prefer to purchase from retailers who offer the option to buy an online and pick it up in a store, the study finds.

The Deloitte study also finds:

  • 81% of shoppers will shop at mass merchants.
  • 28% of shoppers will shop at traditional department stores.
  • 30% of shoppers plan to purchase prepackaged school supply kits.
  • 60% of shoppers will begin back-to-school shopping before August, while 40% will begin shopping after July.
  • Consumers who start shopping early spend $532 on average compared with post-July shoppers, who will spend $458.