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Total Back-to-School Spending to Rise 33%

by MarketingCharts staff
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These findings echoes recent research from PriceGrabber and ShopperTrak, which also forecast a rise in back-to-school spending this year.

Shoppers Seek Deals

According to the NRF survey, the state of the economy is driving a significant proportion of back-to-school consumers to shop for sales more often (51.2%), purchase more store-brand or generic items (37%), and comparison shop more with ad circulars and newspapers (35.9%). In addition, 37.8% of the back-to-school survey respondents said the economy is forcing them to simply spend less in general, though this is down from 43.7% last year.

Meanwhile, 35.8% of respondents are using coupons more, and 15.2% say their back-to-school shopping plans will not change.

Spending on Shoes to Jump

Average spending on clothing ($246.10) and school supplies ($95.44) will increase this year by 11.6% and 7.2%, respectively, compared to last year. Families will also spend an average of $129.20 on shoes, a 23.6% increase over last year. Average spending on computers, cell phones, mp3 players and tablet devices is expected to increase 15% to $217.88, with the proportion of families with school-aged children planning to purchase electronics this year rebounding to 59.6%, after dropping from 63.7% in 2010 to 51.9% in 2011.

Average Teen, Pre-Teen to Spend More

The survey found that teenagers will spend 15% more than last year for certain apparel, supplies and accessories. Teenagers are expected to spend an average of $36.48 for school items, compared to $31.64 last year. Pre-teens, largely reliant on their parents for an allowance, will spend far more this year ($25.63, up almost 70% from $15.12 in 2011). When it comes to how much say children have in parents’ buying decisions, 63.5% of parents say their children influence 50% or more of back-to-school purchases.

Online Shopping to See Marked Increase

Roughly two-thirds of back-to-school shoppers plan to make at least one purchase from a discount store, while 3 in 5 will head to a department store, up 5% from 57% last year and marking a new high in the survey’s 9-year history. Clothing stores (52%), office supply stores (42%) and electronics stores (26.3%) will also be more popular than last year. This year, the biggest growth belongs to e-commerce: 39.6% said they will shop online, representing a 25% increase from 31.7% last year.

Families to Start Shopping Earlier

A plurality of families (47.8%) will begin shopping 3 weeks to one month before school starts, and an additional 22.3% will begin their shopping at least 2 months before school starts. The combined proportion who will begin shopping at least 3 weeks before school starts (70.1%) represents an 11% increase from 63.2% last year. A similar trend was found by PriceGrabber (see link above), with the proportion of that survey’s respondents waiting until August or September to begin shopping dropping to 46%, from 56% last year.

About the Data: NRF’s 2012 Back-to-School spending was conducted by BIGinsight. The poll of 8,509 consumers was conducted from July 2- 9, 2012.