In yet another survey predicting tepid back-to-school spending, Accenture says more parents are positively dreading the annual ritual this year, and predicts that the electronics category may be hardest-hit.
Only 25% of parents in its survey say they plan to purchase computers, cell phones and other electronic items for kids this year, down from 36% last year. And only 18% plan to shop at electronics stores, such as Best Buy, a big drop from 24% in 2010.
"The consumer has spoken and reports that they 'dread' these back-to-school shopping trips," writes Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture's Retail practice, in its report. "Parents will be spending less on themselves to fund these purchases, and they will spend their dollars where they find the right mix of discounts, quality and convenience. Spending will neither be penny-pinching nor excessive, so retailers will need to keep a keen focus on inventory levels and delivering a targeted offer that meets their customers' needs."
This year, 29% say that they "dread" back-to-school shopping, up from 25% last year.
Accenture's survey, based on 624 parents of school-aged kids, confirms previous data from the National Retail Federation, American Express, and Deloitte, and finds that online-only retailers, office supply stores, department stores, and discount stores will be the channels that gain new sales.
Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation has also noted a decline in people planning electronics purchases as a major trend this year. Still, it is upbeat about the category overall: "Electronics aren't losing popularity," it notes in its new back-to-school trend report, "just look at the crowd of people hovering around the tablet devices and laptops at any large retailer!"
It attributes the decline in purchase intentions to tech-savvy kids (and their parents) who "don't necessarily view these purchases as 'seasonal' anymore -- they are simply buying them when they can or when they want it, all year long." In addition, it expects gadget spending to pick up with the release of newer models, and as the holidays approach. Walmart's Sam's Club just released a survey of 15,000 moms of college students, for example, and 80% named a laptop as the single most essential item for a college student today.