Why back-to-school shopping hasn’t gone digital

WASHINGTON — Holiday shopping is increasingly done online, but back-to-school shopping still belongs to the malls and the discount stores.

Maybe it is because it’s a chance for parents to do something with their kids.

“Being able to take them by the hand and walk through the store and pick out the things they need is a very poignant experience for a parent and it’s not something you are going to replicate online,” Greg Ferrante, at JLL (formerly Jones Lang LaSalle) told WTOP.

Only 19 percent of those surveyed by JLL said they planned to buy school supplies online and about one-quarter said they would buy clothes online.

Back-to-school budgets are also fairly universal across household incomes, at least for the basics.

“There are staples that you need,” Ferrante said. “So there are clothing items, there are school supplies, there is the lunchbox and everything else that goes with it, and those have finite costs. But I will tell you that the more upscale folks are going to buy nicer clothes or a nicer lunchbox.”

The top three retailers are also almost universal across almost all household incomes.

Wal-Mart, J.C. Penny and Target lead back-to-school spending.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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