1010data Back to School Study: Retailers at Risk for Poor Grades During Back to School Shopping Season

Out of Stock Items, Long Lines and High Prices Among Parents’ Top Concerns

NEW YORK, NY – Aug. 21, 2014 – 1010data, Inc., a leader in Big Data Discovery and data sharing, today announced the results of its 2014 Back to School Survey, which highlighted the risks retailers face during the back to school shopping season. In fact, if a retailer is out of stock of an item just twice, 40% of parents say they will avoid shopping at that retailer again. With nearly 7 out of 10 parents reporting that they expect stores to run out of back to school items by the time school starts, retail customer loyalty may be at risk. Half of surveyed parents believe that back to school staples like backpacks will be out of stock when they need them most.

Nearly all parents across the country (94%) reported experiencing frustration when it comes to back to school shopping.  The national study of more than 1,000 parents, conducted by uSAMP in August 2014, found that retailers often fall short when it comes to carrying important items on back to school shopping lists -- topping the list of complaints is out-of-stocks.

When asked about what things frustrated them during the back to school shopping season: 

  • 57% of all parents surveyed were frustrated about out-of-stocks
  • 51% raised long lines as a problem
  • 49% were bothered by high prices
  • 48% were frustrated by hard to find items in stores
  • 39% cited angry or rude shoppers 
  • 31% reported misbehaving children 
  • 27% were frustrated by obnoxious parents.

Question: Which of the following frustrations have you experienced in retailers when doing back to school shopping? 

When asked about which types of stores parents have encountered out-of-stocks in:

  • Nearly three out of four parents (74%) pointed to large chain stores as running out of important items on back to school shopping lists
  • Close to one-third of parents (29%) indicated that small, local stores were likely to be out of stock of what they need to buy for the student in their household
  • The problem was also significant in supermarkets (27%) and mall stores (21%)  

Notably, parents had better expectations for big online retailers. Only 12% of parents had encountered out-of-stocks at big online retailers during the back to school season.

“The back to school season can either be a cherished ritual for parents or be one of the most stressful times of the year, and this study shows that, ironically, retailers sometimes let parents down at a time when they could be building trust,” said Sandy Steier, co-founder and CEO of 1010data.  “For most retailers, the issue is not that they don’t have data about these problems; rather, the issue is that they often can’t pull the data together and analyze it quickly and so that they create insights they can act upon.”

There are some critical steps both online and brick and mortar stores need to take to improve the back to school shopping experience for families, and these include making sure the most popular items are in-stock, on-the-shelf and easy-to-find.  Many consumers aren’t very forgiving when they can’t find what they need and turn to competitors instead. In fact, the 1010data Back to School Study reveals that 40% of parents will avoid shopping at a store after not being able to find an item twice. 

Question: How many times does a store have to run out of stock before you avoid shopping there again?

When parents can’t find key back to school items at a store, a whopping 85% will visit a competitor store instead, according to the new study. 12% of parents will even turn to word of mouth and tell their friends not to shop at a store when items are not there.  

The study confirmed that parents across the country have diminished expectations for retailers when it comes to the back to school season. Half (50%) of all parents surveyed actually expect stores to be out of stock before school starts. More than one-third (35%) of parents say they expect stores to be out of stock on items during the first week of school, and nearly one-quarter (24%) don’t think they will be able to find what they need in stores after the first week of school.

By leveraging Big Data and solutions like 1010data, retailers can begin to address key issues that parents raise about back to school shopping. For example, the 1010data Consumer Insights Platform enables retailers and suppliers to collaborate regarding merchandising choices, inventory levels, loyalty initiatives and pricing and promotional strategies to understand how to best serve customers. Using the power of 1010data solutions retailers are harnessing the power of billions of individual data points to improve the customer experience.


About 1010data’s 2014 Back to School Study:

The study was commissioned by 1010data and fielded by uSamp. uSamp’s online market research panel consists of 12 million highly responsive and diverse panelists worldwide with 12,000 new registrants per day, including mobile survey panelists. They are able to reach niche panelists across any demographic from 90+ countries in North, Central and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia Pacific.

This study surveyed 1,010 parents with kids between ages 4 and 17 in the US.