NRF Predicts Cautious Back-to-School Shopper

While levels of consumer confidence are reaching six-year highs, a new survey from the National Retail Federation reports that about 77% of families with kids in school are worrying about money, and say the state of the economy will affect their back-to-school shopping. That’s down a bit from last year’s survey (when 80% expressed those concerns).

Of course, they still plan to spend: Only 26% of those concerned about the economy sayi they will be trying to make do with last year’s items. But 37% say they intend to spend less than they did last year. And they plan to use plenty of different smart-shopper strategies to keep costs down, including shopping sales more often (48%); buying more store brands and generics (37%); using more coupons (37%)  doing more comparative shopping with circulars and print ads (36%.). Surprisingly, digital tools figure less prominently in their cost-saving arsenal this year, with 32% doing more online comparison shopping, and just 18% planning to shop more online.



Those shopping for back-to-college items are even more likely to cut back, with only 22% saying they will not cut back due to the economy.

The NRF, which conducted the study with BIGInsight, says it plans to release spending predictions in a few weeks. Last year, it says families with kids in grades K-12 spent almost $690 on school-related items, including clothing, supplies and electronics.

“It remains to be seen what families will spend on school items this year, but one thing is clear,” the NRF writes on its blog. “The economy remains a big concern for many Americans.”

Major retailers are already begun the battle for BTS bucks: Walmart has launched its back-to-school microsite, for example. And Staples is selling a $10 savings pass, which gives shoppers 15% off school supplies.

Meanwhile, the Conference Board is reporting that its Consumer Confidence Index rose again in June, with consumers reporting both a better perception of the economy as it is now, and an increase in their expectation about the next six months, as well as rosier views about hiring. Confidence is now at its highest level since January 2008.

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