The average US family of four plans to spend $800 on back to school purchases this year but two-thirds of U.S. parents (67%) say they will need to make trade-offs to afford these expenses, according to the July 2011 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Clothing ($290), shoes ($110), and school supplies ($100) top back to school shopping lists.
Six in 10 (61%) parents plan to purchase designer labels and name brands, with sneakers (68%), jeans (66%) and shoes (53%) the three most popular clothing items parents plan to obtain. To pay for these and other costs, parents plan to dine out less (53%) and spend less on entertainment (39%) as well as their own wardrobe (37%).
Nearly four in 10 (39%) parents expect to purchase cosmetic or beauty products and services. Haircuts ($40) and hair styling ($70) top the list, but parents will also spend on:
More than one quarter (27%) of parents say electronics are on their back to school shopping lists. This number is down 26% from last year among parents with kids in high school or below (25% in 2011 compared to 34% in 2010). The largest single purchase some parents (13%) will make is a laptop computer ($830). Other electronics that made the shopping list include:
Many external factors influence parents’ purchasing decisions but when it comes to what to buy for back to school, the kids rule. More than two-thirds of parents (67%) say that their kids’ wishes/desires carry the most weight. Thirty-nine percent of parents also admit that their children have more influence when it comes to buying their back to school wardrobe, 26% more than the 31% of parents who say they have more influence over what to buy. Current trends (20%), friends/family (19%) and TV (17%) also shape parents’ purchases.
When it comes to where they shop, half of parents (50%) say they decide where to go, about 160% more than listen to their children (19%). Nearly two in five (38%) parents plan to shop for their kids clothes at department stores. Significantly fewer (24%) parents will choose to shop at an outlet or discount store.
Of those parents who plan to shop online for back to school clothes, online coupons and deals (31%) and avoiding the hassle of lines (21%) are their primary reasons.
Although 2011 back-to-school per capita family spending is expected to be down slightly compared to 2010, total money spent should be higher, according to a July forecast from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and BIGresearch. Based on different metrics, total spending on grades K-12 is expected to reach $22.8 billion, up 7% from $21.35 billion in 2010 and 31% higher than $17.42 billion in 2009.
Meanwhile, the average US family will spend $603.63 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics for school-aged children K-12 this year, down fractionally from $606.40 last year but up 10% from $548.72 in 2009.
About the Data: The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 811 parents of children in grades kindergarten through college. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between July 2 and July 6, 2011.
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