By Sam Lewis, associate editor
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This year’s NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics survey finds families shopping early – and looking for online deals.
2012 back-to-school spending was one for the history books, due to a combination of long overdue demand and a growing population of school-aged children. However, the record year in back-to-school sales left parents and students with plenty of still working, fully functional school supplies, leading to a significantly shorter shopping list this year.
According to NRF’s 2013 Back-To-School survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, families will spend an average of $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies, and electronics, down from $688.62 in 2012. Total back-to-school spending is projected to reach $26.7 billion, down from $30.3 billion last year.
The survey found families might be skipping a July beach vacation in exchange for a quick start out of the back-to-school shopping gate. 23.9 percent of families with children in K-12, an all time high, will begin shopping two months before school begins. “We continue to see a shift in shopping patterns during big spending ‘events,’where consumers typically head out early to take advantage of fresh inventory options,” said Prosper Insights’ Director, Pam Goodfellow. The initial rush of fresh inventory and initial markdowns is followed by a lull, only to be revived when final sales appear.
Many families will turn to the internet to save money, with 36.6 percent of families doing more comparative shopping online. Additionally, 18.5 percent of back-to-school shoppers say they will do more online shopping than they have done in the past. And who can blame them? Economic conditions may have improved, but 80 percent of families surveyed say that current economic conditions are affecting the way they shop in one way or another. “As they (back-to-school shoppers) continue to grapple with the impact of increased payroll taxes, Americans will look to cut corners where they can, but will buy what their kids need,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “It’s important to note, however, that spending levels are still well above where they were a few years ago.”
Parents this back-to-school season are exploiting all the tools in their belt to make their budgets spread far enough to get the products their children want and desire, despite economic conditions and lowered demand. By comparison shopping online, around town at their favorite stores, oftentimes more than once, this year’s back-to-school shoppers are determined to get the best products at the best value.