Aug
05
2011

Back-to-school marks start of holiday shopping season

Retailers in the heat of back-to-school season better prepare to keep up the pace until the start of 2012. That’s because back-to-school now marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season with nary a break in between back-to-school and New Year’s.

Weekly tracking data from Experian Simmons found that online shopping during the previous two years began a seasonal increase in August/September and ended only after the winter holidays were over. In 2009, for instance, the share of online adults who made purchases online during a 30 day period rose from a low of 27% the week of September 21 to a high of 39% the week of January 11, 2010. Likewise, we report that on August 2, 2010, 27% of online adults had made a purchase online during the previous 30 days (the lowest point of the year) and rose to 43% on December 27, 2010 (the highest point recorded in over three years).

If trends hold true, the 2011 online purchasing surge is well underway and retailers will have to be quick to pivot from the back-to-school theme to holiday without missing a beat.


Back-to-School: Not just for parents anymore

While the seasonal effect of online shopping is less pronounced among online adults without kids in the home, the pattern closely adheres to that observed among those with kids. Interestingly, childless adults also show an uptick in online purchasing starting in late summer even though they are unlikely to be doing any back-to-school shopping. These shoppers are possibly lured by seasonal specials just like parents even though they are not being targeted directly.

This trend strongly suggests that retailers should not forget childless shoppers in their back-to-school marketing campaigns. Offering deals and specials to this seasonally forgotten group will likely result in a further boost in sales. Furthermore, while online parents report a higher seasonal spike in online purchases, they also exhibit a strong dip in purchasing after the New Year. Online adults without kids take a break after the holidays as well, but they’re back in the game more quickly providing retailers with much needed revenue in the low season.


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