Back-to-School Shoppers Covet Deals

July 20, 2009

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Analytics, Automated & MarTech | CPG & FMCG | Retail & E-Commerce | Trade Shows & Events

The recession is expected to negatively affect the 2009 back-to-school shopping season, according to recent consumer surveys by Deloitte and the National Retail Federation (NRF). However, fewer consumers may cut back on back-to-school spending this year than in 2008, and key product categories such as electronics and “green” items may prove to be bright spots, writes Retailer Daily.

Research by Deloitte indicates 64% of consumers plan to spend less on back-to-school items, compared with 71% in 2008. In addition, 43% plan to cut back their spending by more than $100, down from 48% last year.

The NRF 2009 Back-to-School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, tracked consumer spending plans differently. According to the survey [pdf], the average family with students in grades K-12 is expected to spend $548.72 on school merchandise, a decline of 7.7% from $594.24 in 2008.

Total spending on back to school is expected to reach $17.42 billion, and about 50% of consumers plan to spend less on back-to-school overall.


Economy Weighs Heavily on Americans

Both surveys reveal that economic concerns are significantly affecting consumers’ back-to-school spending plans.

According to Deloitte, 55% of consumers plan to spend less because of? general economic concerns. Other reasons for spending less:

  • 50% plan to spend less because of? high prices of both gas and food.
  • 46% plan to spend less because of high energy prices.
  • 22% cite a job loss in their household, which will cause them to spend less
  • 17% cite fear a job loss, which will cause them to spend less.

Deloitte found that 85% of consumers think the economy is in a recession, down 10% from last year, and 70% of consumers are changing back-to-school shopping plans as a result of the economy, with 74% buying more items on sale, 64% buying more lower-priced items, 55% using more store coupons and 32% buying more private-label goods.

Meanwhile, NRF research – which was conducted with a larger sample size – found that a higher percentage (85%) of consumers are changing back-to-school shopping plans as a result of the economy, with 56.2% hunting for sales more often, 41.7% purchasing more store brand and generic products and 40% planning to use more coupons:


Low Prices Most Coveted

Both surveys indicate that discount stores stand to gain from the trend toward price consciousness. According to Deloitte, 90% of consumers will shop at discount/value department stores, 40% will shop at dollar stores, and 28% will shop at off-price stores. Another 29% will shop at office supply stores.

NRF data indicate that 74.5% of consumers will shop at discount stores, 54.4% will shop at department stores, 48.4% will shop at clothing stores and 41.2% will shop at office supply stores. Another 21.5% of consumers will shop at drug stores, an 18% increase from 18.2% last year.

Bright Spots Exist

While both surveys suggest consumer spending in most back-to-school product categories will drop, each finds a different category that will see level or increased spending. According to Deloitte, 41% of consumers will seek out “green” products this year,? and 31% will seek out green retailers. These figures are in line with 2008 results.

On the other hand, NRF said back-to-school spending on consumer electronic goods will rise 11% this year, from $151.61 to $167.84. Consumer electronics and clothing and accessories will continue to account for the bulk of consumer spending:


About the research: Deloitte commissioned its survey, which was conducted online by an independent research company between July 6 and 9, 2009. The survey polled a sample of 1,044 consumers BIGresearch conducted the NRF “Back-to-School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey,” which polled 8,367 consumers from June 30 – July 7, 2009.


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