MasterCard projects 7.5% retail growth in shopping for the upcoming school year, with physical stores seeing an 8.2% increase and online retailers 4.3% growth. But compared to the last pre-pandemic year of 2019, web sales will be up 89.3% during the 2022 back-to-school season, according to the MasterCard SpendingPulse report.

Despite fears of a possible economic downturn, shoppers will spend 7.5% more with retailers during the back-to-school season than last year. More of the growth will go to brick-and-mortar stores than to retail websites, according to the latest MasterCard SpendingPulse report.

MasterCard projects an 8.2% increase in in-store sales versus online growth of 4.3%. The report compares projected sales from July 14, 2022, to Sept. 5, 2022, with retail sales from July 15 to Sept. 6 last year.

Pre-COVID back-to-school comparison

The slower online growth stems from tough comparisons with the past two pandemic years, when ecommerce soared. Comparing the upcoming back-to-school season with 2019’s, the last year before COVID-19 emerged, online sales will be up 89.3%. In-store sales will be up 9.9% and total retail 18.3%, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse.

 

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The back-to-school period will provide a gauge of how consumers balance their desire to shop with rising prices. It could be a preview for the holiday season to follow, MasterCard said in a release.

While MasterCard SpendingPulse anticipates growth across sectors, retailers will need to find innovative ways to entice shoppers as discretionary spending potentially stretches thin as a result of increasing prices.
Steve Sadove
MasterCard senior advisor

“Back-to-school is the second-biggest season for retailers and is often looked at as an early indicator of retail momentum ahead of the traditional holiday season,” says Steve Sadove, senior advisor for MasterCard and former CEO and chairman of Saks Inc. “While MasterCard SpendingPulse anticipates growth across sectors, retailers will need to find innovative ways to entice shoppers as discretionary spending potentially stretches thin as a result of increasing prices.”

Department stores, which have struggled during the pandemic, likely will see 13% growth during this back-to-school season over last year. Apparel sales, both offline and online, will increase 8.7%, MasterCard predicts.

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MasterCard SpendingPulse makes retail sales projections, excluding vehicle sales, based on spending data from the MasterCard payments network. It also uses spending surveys with other payment forms, including cash and check.

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