Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Back to School

Now that August is here, parents will have to fork over the money...

Coupons and Sales Up Front For Back-to-School Buying

According to the National Retail Federation's 2009 Back to School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, by BIGresearch, back-to-school shoppers buy only what you need, check for coupons and sales, and grab perfect computer at the right price. The average family with students in grades Kindergarten through 12 is expected to spend $548.72 on school merchandise, down 7.7% from 2008. Total spending on back to school is expected to reach $17.42 billion. 2009 back-to-college and back-to-school spending combined will total $47.50 billion, says the study.

85% of Americans have made some changes to back-to-school plans this year, impacting spending, with 56.2% of back-to-school shoppers hunting for sales more often, 49.6% planning to spend less overall, 41.7% purchasing more store brand/generic products and 40.0% are planning to increase their use of coupons.

Others say the economy has impacted lifestyle decisions, with 11.4% saying children will cut back on extracurricular activities or sports and 5.7% saying that the economy is impacting whether their children will attend a private or public school.

Tracy Mullin, President and CEO of NRF, says "... As people focus primarily on price, strong promotions and deep discounts will ultimately win over back-to-school shoppers this year."

Spending in most back-to-school categories is expected to decrease, except for electronics, which is expected to increase 11% as personal laptops and desktop computers become increasingly more affordable. The average family plans to spend $167.84 on those purchases, compared to $151.61 last year. Families will also spend an average of:

  • $204.67 on clothing and accessories
  • $93.59 on shoes
  • $82.62 on school supplies

Discount stores will be the most popular destination for 74.5% of back-to-school shoppers, while 21.5% of families will shop at drug stores for back-to-school, an 18% increase over last year. In addition:

  • 54.4% of back-to-school shoppers will head to department stores
  • 48.4% will shop at a clothing store and
  • 41.2% will visit office supply stores. Additionally,
  • 22.2% will shop online,
  • 20.8% will shop at electronics stores and
  • 18.2% will shop at a thrift store.

Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch, says "Americans will be... using newspaper ads, online promotion codes, and... comparison shopping before making decisions... parents hope to begin back-to-school shopping early to spread the spending out... "

According to the survey, 44.4% of Americans will begin their shopping three weeks to one month before school starts to take advantage of retailers' early promotions. And:

  • 31.8% will shop one to two weeks before school starts
  • 2.5% will shop after school starts to take advantage of clearance sales

College students and their parents will spend an average of $618.12 this year, up only 3%. Total college spending is expected to decrease to $30.08 billion.

Tracy Mullin, President and CEO of NRF, observes that "This year, college students are just as focused as their parents on finding good deals and making smart choices with their money."

According to the survey, back-to-college buyers say the economy will cause them to spend less overall (48.0%), shop for sales more often (46.1%), and comparative shop with ad circulars/newspapers (30.8%). The economy will also cause some students to make do with last year's school items (33.6%), share or borrow textbooks instead of buying new ones (17.4%), and will impact students' choice of college (15.0%).

12.8% of survey respondents say the economy will impact where a student lives, with many choosing to save money by living at home. 58.5% of college students will be living at home this year, compared to 54.1% last year and 49.1% in 2007. Families of freshmen will spend $820.77 on back-to-college purchases.

  • Sophomores will spend $496.16
  • Juniors $470.56
  • Seniors $442.00

College students and their families will spend an average of

  • $118.56 on apparel
  • $57.85 on shoes
  • $34.52 on collegiate gear
  • $61.05 on school supplies
  • $80.06 on dorm or apartment furniture
  • $266.08 on electronics or computer-related items

Please visit the NRF here to view complete back-to-school and back-to-college survey results.

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