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School has started for many. But the back-to-school shopping frenzy hasn't ended. Plenty of families will continue their back-to-school shopping for weeks.

Back-to-school

You can practically feel the earth shaking as millions of kids plod back-to-school, wearing fall fashions in summer heat and toting new backpacks filled with three-ring binders, two-pocket folders, pens, pencils, calculators and MacBooks. School is back and back-to-school is a thing. And you know how they say you never stop learning? Well, it turns out you never stop buying stuff for the learning either. Sure, in much of the country class is in session. But that doesn’t mean that the back-to-school shopping frenzy has ended. In fact, plenty of families will continue their back-to-school shopping for weeks. The National Retail Federation last week issued a news release pointing out that the average back-to-school shopper had completed 48 percent of his or her school shopping by early August. That, of course, means that half their shopping was yet to come, according to the annual survey NRF conducts with Prosper Insights & Analytics. Retailers can cash in on the shifting shopping season All of which is an opportunity for retailers. “Shopping early and often is a trend we have seen from many budget-conscious consumers over the last few years,” NRF CEO Matthew Shay said in the written release. “In the weeks ahead, parents will take advantage of the aggressive deals that retailers will offer as they get ready to welcome the fall season merchandise.” The NRF also released the results of a related flash poll it conducted with Research Now to gather parents’ attitudes concerning back-to-school shopping. A sampling:

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Consider that Prosper survey again. Given that it’s nearly September, families have no doubt moved beyond completing just 48 percent of their back-to-school shopping. Still, the back-to-school shopping season is far from over. Why? For one thing, the Prosper-conducted survey also found that nearly 5 percent of families plan to engage in back-to-school shopping after school starts. And keep in mind that school hasn’t started yet in some districts. Be ready for shoppers when they're ready for you For another thing, recent trends indicate that the back-to-school shopping season is becoming a season without beginning or end. Yes, the peak spending period will undoubtedly be the late summer for the foreseeable future, but retailers need to remember that consumers are researching and comparing well before and beyond late July and August.

Top Trends for 2016 Back-to-School and College Shopping

from National Retail Federation And while all of this is interesting in the context of back-to-school shopping, it is yet another reminder that consumer habits have changed and will continue to evolve, as is evidenced by recent holiday shopping trends. The fact is, consumers hold the power of commerce in the palm of their hands. They research prices, selection and availability on smartphones. They may begin searching anywhere and at anytime and buy when the price is right, whenever that might be. The back-to-school season, being the second biggest shopping period in retail, certainly brings those issues to the fore. But they are issues that successful retailers keep in mind year-round, as they plan promotions, inventory and revenue goals. Infographic and SlideShare courtesy of the National Retail Federation. Photo by Mike Cassidy. Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at mike.cassidy@bloomreach.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.