Back-to-School Shopping Makes the Grade—78% of Consumers Plan to Spend More, ICSC Survey Finds

Ninety-five percent of back-to-school shoppers to spend in physical stores; 93 percent to spend at mall or shopping center

NEW YORK--()--Today, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) released its annual back-to-school consumer survey results, finding an overall uptick in spending. In-store purchases continue to dominate, with a whopping 95 percent of back-to-school (BTS) shoppers planning to spend at physical stores, while omnichannel trends like click and collect are also gaining traction. In total, the average BTS shopper is expected to spend $657.00 in purchases.

Seventy-eight percent of BTS shoppers expect to spend more this year, a significant increase compared with those who planned to do the same in 2015 (67%) and 2014 (50%). When asked why their spending would increase this year, 48 percent noted a need to replace wardrobe and school supplies, 44 percent cited that school requirements have changed and 35 percent stated that the items they plan to buy are more expensive than last year.

“Back-to-school shopping is considered the second biggest spending season of the year and according to ICSC’s survey, this season is shaping up to be the strongest of recent years,” said Tom McGee, President and CEO of ICSC. “As we’ve seen in our other surveys, the majority of consumers intend to shop primarily in stores. At the same time, there is a continued interest in leveraging omnichannel strategies such as click and collect as consumers integrate technology into their shopping experience.”

Ninety-three percent of BTS shoppers plan to spend at a mall or shopping center. When asked why they prefer to spend in physical stores and shopping centers, the top reasons included:

  • Ability to physically see, touch or try on merchandise (42%)
  • Avoid shipping costs (34%)
  • Convenience of one-stop shopping (33%)

While the majority of back-to-school shoppers (95%) will spend at physical stores, many also plan to spend online from retailers with brick-and-mortar locations. As a result, 97 percent of BTS shoppers will spend in-store and/or online at retailers with a physical presence.

Click and collect is resonating with consumers. Thirty-three percent of shoppers will make a purchase online to be picked up in a physical location. What’s more, 84 percent of those shoppers will make an additional purchase when picking up their online order.

Sixty-two percent of BTS shoppers plan to conduct research online before shopping. Eighty-six percent will use their mobile device while shopping in-store, primarily to compare prices (58%), retrieve discounts (45%) and view ratings (34%).

Over three-quarters (77%) of BTS shoppers will purchase school or office supplies, 68 percent will buy apparel or footwear, and nearly half (47%) will spend on electronics. On average, all BTS shoppers will spend nearly $280 on electronics.

The back-to-school shopping season is starting and ending earlier this year, with more consumers planning to spend in July and less in September than 2015. Almost one-third of those surveyed have already started spending and six percent have completed all their shopping needs. August remains the most popular time to shop with 87 percent of Americans planning to do their shopping then; forty-nine percent of shoppers believe this month is the best time for back-to-school deals, promotions and discounts.


The ICSC Back-to-School Survey was conducted online by Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of ICSC from July 7-10, 2016. The survey represents a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,023 adults 18 years of age and older.

About ICSC

Founded in 1957, ICSC is the global trade association of the shopping center industry. Its more than 70,000 members in over 100 countries include shopping center owners, developers, managers, investors, retailers, brokers, academics, and public officials. The shopping center industry is essential to economic development and opportunity. They are a significant job creator, driver of GDP, and critical revenue source for the communities they serve through the generation of sales taxes and the payment of property taxes. These taxes fund important municipal services like firefighters, police officers, school services, and infrastructure like roadways and parks. Shopping centers aren’t only fiscal engines however; they are integral to the social fabric of their communities by providing a central place to congregate with friends and family, discuss community matters, and participate in and encourage philanthropic endeavors. For more information about ICSC visit and for the latest news from ICSC and the industry go to


Noelle Malone, 646-728-3540


Noelle Malone, 646-728-3540