Back To School Spending; Already?

According to NRF’s 2013 Back-to-School Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, families with school-age children will spend an average $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, down from $688.62 last year. Total spending on back-to-school is expected to reach $26.7 billion.Total back-to-school and back-to-college spending combined will reach $72.5 billion.

The report justifies this apparent “decline” by noting that  a combination of pent-up demand and a growing population of school children saw record spending in 2012 back-to-school spending, leaving parents in 2013 with school supplies that still work, and a shorter shopping list.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, says “… consumers are spending… but with cost and practicality in mind…  having splurged on children’s needs last year, parents ask… kids to reuse… will look to cut corners where they can, but will buy what their kids need… however… spending levels are still well above where they were a few years ago…”
The biggest portion of back-to-school shoppers’ budgets will go toward new apparel and accessories: 95.3% of those with K-12 age children will spend an average of:

  • $230.85 on fall sweaters, denim and other chic pieces of attire
  • $114.39 on shoes
  • $90.49 on school supplies
  • 55.7% will spend $199.05 on a new tablet or smartphone

The survey found eight in 10 school shoppers say economic conditions will change their spending in some way. Turning to the Internet to save money, 36.6% say they will do more comparative shopping online and 18.5% will shop online more often. 
According to the survey, families are already out and about shopping for school items: 23.9% of families with children in grades K-12 say they will begin shopping at least two months before school (i.e. right now), up from 22.3% last year and the highest percentage seen in the survey’s 11-year history.

  • 49% will shop three weeks to one month before school
  • 21.8% will shop one to two weeks before school
  • 2.8% will shop the week school starts
  • 2.6% will shop after the start of the season

Prosper Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow, says “… parents this back-to-school season will comparison shop online and around town… even more than once… to find bargains and products that offer the best value…”
Though 67.1% of school shoppers will visit their favorite discount store for school items as they did last year

  • 61.7% will shop at department stores, up from 59.9% last year and the highest in the survey’s history. Additionally,
  • 51.5% will shop at a clothing store,
  • 40.6% will shop at an office supply store,
  • 37.3% will shop online and
  • 25.9% will shop at an electronics store
  • 19.6% will hit their local drug store
  • 13.7% will look for goods at thrift/resale stores

59.6% of parents say their children influence at least half of their back-to-school purchases. And for those extra small purchases, children plan to chip in some of their own money as well. Teens will dole out $30.13 of their own money, and pre-teens will spend an average $18.45, both slightly down from last year.
Much like families with children in grades K-12, college students and their parents will trim their budgets this year as well, looking for ways to reuse what they have and spend only on what they need. According to the NRF 2013 Back-to-College survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, college students and their families will spend an average $836.83 on apparel, electronics, dorm furnishings and more, down from $907.22 last year. Total spending for back-to-college is expected to reach $45.8 billion.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, says “… the back-to-college market continues… to lure students and their parents with attractive deals on everything from microwavable food products to personal care items and home furnishings…  we expect the deals over the next few weeks to turn some heads… ”

22.5% of college students will live in dorms, down from last year, 24% will reside in off campus housing, down from last year, and 47.7% will commute to campus from home, up from 42.9% last year.

One area of college spending that will increase for retailers this year is for dorm and apartment furnishings. 42.0% of families will spend an average $104.76 on new bedding, small refrigerators and microwaves, up from $100.27 last year. Spending on food items is expected to increase as well ($104.44 vs. $100.18 last year).
The largest portion of college shoppers’ budgets will go toward electronics ($203.28). Other traditional college expenditures will include:

  • Clothing and accessories ($122.70)
  • Shoes ($65.60)
  • Gift cards ($65.12)
  • Personal care items ($65.08)
  • School supplies ($62.92)
  • Collegiate gear ($42.94)

Prosper Consumer Insights Director, Pam Goodfellow. says “… Millennials are extremely different from previous generations when it comes to personal style and décor… retailers are answering their call with trendy college-related products… to put a personal touch on their temporary living spaces…” 
The survey found college shoppers are already getting ready for the school year. 29.8% of students and their parents say they will begin shopping at least two months before school, highest in the survey’s history.

  • 34.5% will begin three weeks to one month before school
  • 19.9% will begin one to two weeks before school

Overall, parents and their college-age children will shop around for their needs, but most will look to discount stores (48.3%) and department stores (42.7%). Three in 10 (30.8%) will shop at clothing stores, one-third (33.3%) will head to office supply stores and 37.1% will shop online. The most in the survey’s history – 17.2% – will shop at home furnishings or home décor stores, up from 16.4% last year. Additionally, 20.4% will shop at electronics stores and 18.5% will shop at drug stores.

The survey found that 76.5% of college shoppers say the economy will impact their spending in some way, down from last year but still shows caution with spending plans. 32% will buy generic or store brand products, and 37.5% will shop for sales more often; 10.1% say the economy is impacting where their student lives for the school year.

For more about the report, please visit here; or to view charts, visit the Retail Insight Center here.



1 comment about "Back To School Spending; Already?".
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  1. Juli Schatz from Image Grille, July 30, 2013 at 9:29 a.m.

    In the article title:

    Back to school should be punctuated Back-to-school, and the semi-colon following it is incorrect -- it should be a hyphen.

    "People judge you by the words you use"!

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