Parents Loving Early Price Cuts

With the first bell of the school year just days away for many families, the National Retail Federation says parents are staying on budget, spurning credit cards and scouting out steep discounts. 

In its latest survey, the NRF reports that the average family with school-age children in grades K-12 has already 52% finished with shopping -- up from 40% the same time last year, and the highest since it began the survey. College families have finished up 50%.

That’s evidence that they are more value-focused, the Washington D.C.-based trade group says. “Shopping early and often has become a sign of the times as budget-conscious consumers aim to ease the brunt of large spending events,” it says in its report. “In the weeks ahead, last-minute shoppers can expect promotions to continue through Labor Day as retailers try to make room for fresh fall merchandise.”



The survey, which included some 5,700 parents and was conducted by Prosper, also finds that 43% of back-to-school shoppers say they are influenced by sales, coupons and promotions, up from 39% last year.

And PriceGrabber just released its latest survey, based on 1,900 parents, reporting that nearly 80% of respondents say they are finding most of their information on back-to-school shopping from online retailer emails, Web sites and blog announcements. They are also shifting strategies a bit: 26% plan to use more coupons; 19% will shop at less expensive stores, and 16% will use cards that reward them with points. And 46% intend to put their smartphones to use finding better BTS deals.

One interesting shift, the NRF notes, is that parents seem more committed to paying with cash and debit cards, with 46% saying they will use their debit cards most often, compared with cash (31%) and credit (20%).

It estimates school and college spending will reach $72.5 billion.

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting there’s a bit of glee in this parental shopping: Parents are happy to pack their kids off to school again. DDB Life Style Study finds that in its latest research, 76% of parents with kids between 6 and 17 are glad when school starts, and say they welcome the change to get back on a fixed schedule.

That’s especially true for dads. In fact, dads wish kids spent even more time at school: Only 37% of moms, vs. 51% of dads, say they would advocate for a longer school day. And while just 42% of moms think it might be a good idea for the school year to last longer, 52% of dads say they would approve.

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