Back-to-School Shopping to Grow 4.0% in 2017

Ecommerce in core categories to grow nearly 16%

Author: eMarketer Editors

June 12, 2017

US retail sales during the back-to-school shopping season of July and August 2017 will grow 4.0% over 2016, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast.
 

Last year set a record for back-to-school season sales, but 2017 will be even better. US retail sales during those core months will reach an estimated $857.18 billion, accounting for 17.0% of total retail sales for the year.

Ecommerce for the back-to-school season will grow 14.8% to $74.03 billion in 2017. That represents 8.6% of total back-to-school retail sales—online and offline—for the period, up from the 7.8% share last year.

“Ecommerce growth this year comes on top of a strong year in 2016, making it that much more impressive,” said eMarketer senior analyst Yory Wurmser. “Younger consumers that shop in preparation for going back to high school and college actually prefer shopping online, so ecommerce growth should continue for the foreseeable future.”

Five product areas play an outsized role during the back-to-school season:

  • Apparel and accessories
  • Books, music and video
  • Computers and consumer electronics
  • Office equipment and supplies
  • Toys and hobbies, including sporting goods

Back-to-school ecommerce sales in these core categories during July and August will exceed the quarterly growth rate for ecommerce overall at 15.8%, reaching $37.56 billion.

It will also be in marked contrast to the poor growth numbers of brick-and-mortar stores in these core areas.

“Several core product areas are among the sectors with the highest ecommerce penetration,” Wurmser said. “Even apparel, which traditionally has been bought in stores, is increasingly moving online.”

eMarketer excludes home goods from its definition of core back-to-school product categories despite the big role that dorm shopping plays in back-to-school sales. Although important, home goods do not see a significant bump in sales during the season relative to other parts of the year.

eMarketer PRO subscribers can click here to access all the data in the back-to-school retail and ecommerce forecast.