Press Release

New Sensormatic Solutions survey finds in-store shopping will continue to rule the U.S. back-to-school season

July 24, 2019


Survey reveals less than two percent of back-to-school shoppers will shop exclusively online

back-to-school infographic header
To view the back-to-school infographic, click here

NEUHAUSEN, Switzerland — (July 24, 2019) — Johnson Controls today announced that Sensormatic Solutions, its leading global retail solutions portfolio, released the results of its 2019 U.S. Back-to-School Shopping Trends survey of more than 1,100 consumers (parents and college students). The survey revealed that an overwhelming majority of respondents will be doing their back-to-school shopping in store this year, with less than 2% of respondents stating that they plan to do all their back-to-school shopping online.

An overwhelming majority of survey respondents will be back-to-school shopping primarily in brick-and-mortar stores across all product categories, including:

  • School supplies: 86%
  • Clothing/apparel: 82%
  • Shoes: 81%
  • Classroom supplies: 76%
  • Backpacks: 61%
  • Electronics: 47%
  • Sporting equipment: 41%
  • Dorm/apartment furniture: 32%

“Consumers still want to shop in store, especially for back-to-school,” said Nick Pompa, vice president and general manager of ShopperTrak, Sensormatic Solutions. “When shopping for young children, parents and students want to experience products first-hand before making a purchase. Although e-commerce continues to grow in popularity, back-to-school shopping still primarily takes place in physical stores with most consumers (62%) planning to shop at two or three stores this year.”

The state of the U.S. economy doesn’t disrupt back-to-school

The survey also found that back-to-school means back-to-spending for most U.S. consumers this year. Nearly 58% have a flexible spending budget, while 27% don’t have a budget at all and plan to buy what’s necessary for the upcoming school year. Half of respondents (51%) anticipate spending the most money on clothing/apparel (51%), followed by school supplies like pencils and notebooks (19%).

Interestingly, the state of the U.S. economy and trade is expected to have little to no impact on back-to-school spending habits this year. Half of respondents (51%) said it will not impact their shopping budget this year. When asked the same question, 12% stated they plan to spend more this year compared to last year.

“Having flexible and/or no budgets for back-to-school shopping presents an opportunity for retailers to upsell their customers in stores. To capitalize on this, retailers can provide a great shopper experience through engaged sale associates, quick and efficient operations and available merchandise,” said Pompa. “In today’s hyper-connected world, these experiences are increasingly driving customer loyalty more than just reliable products and services.

“By looking at historical traffic data, retailers can identify ‘power hours’ when there’s the greatest opportunity for sales conversion, and ensure they have the right associates on the sales floor to optimize customer engagement,” Pompa continued. “This is especially important as back-to-school shopping season continues to be an in-store tradition where customers want to ‘try before they buy’ and consult expert sales staff. It also helps retailers identify some of the quieter periods of traffic – a perfect time to make sure that shelves and displays are neat and well-stocked.”

Back-to-school stress

Students aren’t the only ones dreading the end of summer. Thirty-one percent of respondents claimed that back-to-school shopping is usually extremely or very stressful.

Respondents’ top issues for their back-to-school retail experience concerned inventory. Over 33% of respondents said their biggest complaint was out of stock items, and unorganized store presentation with inventory in disarray was the second largest grievance (18%). Additionally, respondents shopping for elementary school (37%), middle school (37%) and high school (35%) were more likely to complain about items being out of stock compared to those shopping for college (25%).

“Today’s shoppers want to buy products where and when they want,” added Pompa. “Retailers can meet customers’ demands by implementing solutions for accurate, real-time inventory visibility. Not only are these technologies, like RFID, essential for a successful shopper journey, but also they create operational efficiency and are a huge sales driver. They also allow retailers to deliver on unified commerce fulfilment initiatives, such as buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS), buy online, return in store (BORIS), curbside pickup and more.”

To learn more about how Sensormatic Solutions portfolio of loss prevention, inventory intelligence and traffic insights solutions can help retailers improve the back-to-school shopping experience, visit

To view the back-to-school infographic, click here.

Survey Methodology

Sensormatic Solutions collected responses from 1,163 US-based consumers, 18-years and older, via a third-party provider to determine the findings of its 2019 U.S. Back-to-School Shopping Trends survey. All of the respondents plan to shop for back-to-school in 2019 with 39.8% shopping for elementary school, 27.9% shopping for middle school, 34.8% shopping for high school, 33.7% shopping for college and 4.3% of respondents are teachers themselves.

About Johnson Controls

Johnson Controls is a global leader creating a safe, comfortable and sustainable world. Our 105,000 employees create intelligent buildings, efficient energy solutions and integrated infrastructure that work seamlessly together to deliver on the promise of smart cities and communities in 150 countries. Our commitment to sustainability dates back to our roots in 1885, with the invention of the first electric room thermostat. We are committed to helping our customers win everywhere, every day and creating greater value for all of our stakeholders through our strategic focus on buildings. For more information, visit or follow @johnsoncontrols on Twitter.

About Sensormatic Solutions

Sensormatic Solutions is the leading global retail solutions portfolio of Johnson Controls enabling smart and connected shopper engagement. By combining critical insights into retail inventory, shopper traffic and loss prevention, Sensormatic Solutions powers operational excellence at scale and helps create unique shopping experiences. Our solutions deliver real-time visibility and predictive analytics for accurate decision-making across the enterprise, enabling retailers to confidently move into the future. With more than 1.5 million data collection devices in the retail marketplace, we capture 40 billion shopper visits and track and protect billions of items each year. Our retail portfolio features the premier Sensormatic, ShopperTrak and TrueVUE brands. Please visit Sensormatic Solutions or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and our YouTube channel.

Sensormatic Essentials RF anti-theft detection systems feature a sleek modern design to complement any store setting. 


Jason Shockley
Sensormatic Solutions by Johnson Controls
Work: +1 561 912 6045
Ryan Nolan
Johnson Controls
Work: +1-414-524-6170
Anne Lines
Matter on behalf of Sensormatic Solutions
Work: +1-978-518-4512


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