Economic Doubts to Spur Online Sales

Buyers expected to shop the Web for necessities but opt for lower-priced generics.

by staff writer
- Jul 28, 2010

Despite consumer confidence being at its lowest point in five months, online sellers will likely notice a spike in business during back-to-school season, officials say.

Consumer confidence fell from 54.3 in June to 50.4 this month, reports the Conference Board, an independent research group. In May, confident levels were at 62.7. Despite the drop, shoppers will spend slightly more than they did a year ago as their kids head back to school, officials say. In fact, spending will be up from an average of $548.72 last year to $606.40 this year. Total spending is expected to reach $55.12 billion.

Consumers are still wary of the economy, however. Many say it's "hard to get a job" and only 10 percent expect their wages to increase, the Conference Board notes. As a result, parents will look for bargains online, and bypass name brand and luxury items.

"This year, parents will make sure to shop smart, stocking up on necessities like gift cards, apparel and personal care items for their every day needs," says Matt Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation (NRF). "Some families may not have the luxury of providing extra spending cash for their child throughout the year, so preparing ahead of time will at least guarantee the child has the essentials."

About 44 percent are expected to buy generic goods, according to the NRF. And about 71 percent of shoppers will go to discount stores to buy items their kids will need for the upcoming school year. About 30 percent will head online, an 8-percent increase compared to last year.

"Many of today's shoppers are smarter than any other generation before them, especially when it comes to finding the best price," says Phil Rist, BIGresearch's executive vice president of Strategic Initiatives. "The affordability of online shopping gives parents an extra edge over the sometimes expensive back-to-school shopping season with price comparison options, free shipping and even coupons."

To get the items their parents won't buy, teens and pre-teens are expected to use some of their own money, about $30 and $18, respectively.

However, kids will still play an important part in deciding what mom and dad will buy. About 61 percent of parents say their kids influence what they buy, the NRF reports.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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