Expectations High for Back-to-School Cybershopping

Online merchants are too optimistic regarding sales expectations for the back-to-school season, according to a survey by BizRate.com.

Internet merchants estimate consumers will spend an average of $291 online getting ready for the school year, whereas consumers estimate they will spend $188 on average.

Merchants and consumers also differed on what incentives entice consumers to make online purchases and who the buyers will be.

According to BizRate.com, online consumers state that 51 percent of fathers and 49 percent of mothers will be purchasing school supplies over the Internet. Merchants, however, predict mothers (45 percent) will make more online purchases than fathers (7 percent).

Merchants expect online buyers to spend $742 on average for computer hardware, while online consumers anticipate spending only $353 per household. Online buyers plan on spending $233 on average for apparel, while merchants anticipate them spending $338 on average. Sixty percent of online consumers say they will shop only at brick-and-mortar stores when looking for clothing, while only 21 percent of retailers believe that will happen.

Almost half (48 percent) of online buyers plan to make at least one back-to-school purchase online, according to BizRate.

Online merchants and consumers did agree on the most popular incentive to shop online. Both agreed free shipping and handling is the best incentive to make online back-to-school purchases. When asked about the second best incentive, consumers cited instantaneous product discounts and retailers cited rebates.

The BizRate.com survey was conducted in a single day with responses from 3,866 online buyers and 58 online merchants.

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