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Mothers Find Alternatives for Back-to-School Shopping

BOPUS, curbside pickup make the season less aggravating

The back-to-school shopping season can be frustrating—stores are crowded, aisles are messy and school supplies quickly go out of stock.

To avoid some of this strife, a recent survey by Field Agent found that 74% of US mother smartphone users plan to shop online for school supplies this year. (The study polled 1,001 US mothers who had children in grades K to 12.)

And overall, more mothers plan to avoid the store in 2018 compared with a year prior. More than half said they'll be picking up their orders in-store. Meanwhile, others said they plan to order supplies through an app (41%), get them via curbside pickup (24%) or by ordering them through a smart speaker like Amazon Alexa (12%). 

That's not to say that everyone will be forgoing the store. Two-thirds of respondents said their household will likely visit two to three stores to buy school supplies, while another 20% said they'll visit four to five. But buying school supplies online is becoming more widespread, thanks in part to Amazon. 

Amazon's Prime Day is starting to capture dollars spent historically during a more established season: back to school. While back-to-school shopping doesn't play as outsize a role in retailers' annual sales as the Q4 holiday season, it's no small thing. In fact, we forecast US retail ecommerce back-to-school sales will increase 15.4% in 2018 to $85.55 billion, representing 16.3% of full-year retail ecommerce sales.