While 85% of back-to-school shoppers say they return to the same stores every year, almost all (91%) would shop elsewhere if a competing store offered a promotion or rewards programme, according to a study by payment technologies provider Merchant Warehouse. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

Despite the apparent consumer demand for rewards offerings, the study found that many US retailers are failing to use loyalty programmes to gain a competitive advantage in the US$72.9 billion back-to-school shopping season. Only 34% of the retailers surveyed said they planned to use a loyalty or rewards programme during the 2014 back-to-school shopping season.

The rewards for retailers who participate in these programmes are clear, however. After the winter holiday season, the back-to-school shopping season is the largest shopping season in the US.

The average back-to-school spending for families with children in grades K-12 on apparel, shoes, supplies, and electronics is estimated to be US$669.28 in 2014, which represents a 5% increase from 2013.

According to Merchant Warehouse, in addition to driving increased sales during the shopping season, retailers that implement effective programmes could expect to reap additional rewards in the months ahead as loyalty programmes often increase a brand's market share by up to 20% and improve customer acquisition by up to 10%.