Back-to-School Online Shopping: More Transactions, More Spend

In August, children around the world (in the northern hemisphere, at least) mourn the end of summer vacation and head back to school. And, despite the start of the school year annually creeping earlier in August for many school districts in the U.S., American consumers still are doing the bulk of their back-to-school shopping in August and it is increasingly online, according to a survey from issuing giant Bank of America. Seventy-eight percent of respondents plan to start shopping for school items in August, the report said.

According to data from B of A’s more than 40 million credit and debit card holders, last year, the company saw online transactions increase in several verticals during the back-to-school shopping surge, led by department stores (61 percent higher than 2015), artist supply stores (37 percent higher) and clothing stores (32 percent).

The share of online transactions for several important merchant verticals also has been climbing in recent years and average ticket prices for online orders was higher last year in most of those verticals.

While a trip to the office supply store is still an August tradition (92 percent of B of A cardholders made their office supply store purchases at the POS compared to 7 percent online), consumers buying electronics (30 percent in-store vs. 56 percent online) and books (66 percent in-store vs. 26 percent online) are turning to e-commerce in greater proportions.

Back-to-school shoppers also tend to spend more per transaction, according to the B of A data. Other than clothing stores and electronics stores, most merchant verticals saw higher spend online compared to in their stores as consumers prepared to send their kids back to school.

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