Canadian back-to-school spending to increase 4%, says EY

Shopper loyalty is transforming, as Gen Z's influence on spending grows

MONTREAL, Aug. 4, 2015 /CNW/ - Retail sales are expected to increase 4% in Canada this year, as inflation and the lower Canadian dollar increase prices, according to EY.

"This year's back-to-school season will be one of contrasts," explains Daniel Baer, EY Partner and Canadian Retail and Consumer Products Sector Leader. "On the one hand, consumers will have additional disposable income boosted by the recent Universal Child Care Benefit payments, lower gas prices, and low interest rates. The lower Canadian dollar will also translate into more spending at Canadian retailers and less across the border. On the other hand, inflation, higher housing costs and economic uncertainty will dampen consumers' urge to spend." 

To thrive, successful retailers will have to manage the combined effect of these factors. Additionally, they'll need to target a wider range of consumers, as children are now calling the shots for back-to-school supplies, footwear and clothing needs.

"A growing trend is just how much influence children have on what parents buy," noted Baer.  "Children are looking for what's cool for the new school year, and as a result, loyalty to a retailer or brand is being eroded."

In fact, according to EY's recent report, Redefining loyalty for retail, access to more diverse retailers (physical and virtual), more brands (national and store brands) and more information to validate every decision – are changing the dynamics of shopper loyalty, especially with younger generations.

The report shows that Gen Z (teens aged 14 to 17) is the most pragmatic of all generations. "This group has grown up in a digital shopping world and expects retailers to develop trusted relationships through two-way communication," Baer explains. "They're price-sensitive because they were raised during tough economic conditions of the post-2008 recession."

During this time of year, retailers have traditionally catered to parents, who usually make most spending decisions. Now, retailers must be flexible enough to cater to younger shoppers. To thrive in this back-to-school season and in the long run, successful retailers will recognize that:

  • Different segments think differently about loyalty and shopping.
  • Rewards and loyalty programs no longer equate to creating more loyal shoppers.
  • Price and convenience are not sustainable in creating a differentiated shopping proposition.

This year, back-to-school sales will vary across the country. Alberta and Saskatchewan, who are normally perennial leaders, are expected to post negative back-to-school retail sales. British Columbia and Ontario will lead sales, while the Maritimes and Quebec will continue to lag behind the national average, with little growth expected.

Other highlights of EY's back-to-school retail trends forecast include:

  • Free shipping or delivery continues to be important to shoppers
  • Use of video will increasingly be used to attract shoppers' attention to fashion trends
  • Special sales or discounts will attract Gen Z shoppers
  • Flexible return policies are important for parents
  • Receiving special offers by email/text message will be more attractive to consumers
  • Possibility of ordering online and picking up in the store is appreciated by parents and Gen Z alike.

About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY is proudly celebrating 150 years in Canada. For more information, please visit Follow us on Twitter @EYCanada.

EY refers to the global organization and may refer to one or more of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit

SOURCE EY (Ernst & Young)

For further information: Erika Bennett,, 403 206 5157; Julie Fournier,, 514 874 4308; Sasha Anopina,, 416 943 2637


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890