News Feature | June 26, 2015

Parents Plan to Spend More for Back-to-School Than 2014

By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer

Parents Plan to Spend More for Back-to-School

Despite their child's protests, back-to-school shopping is on the minds of American parents as we head into July. The question on many retailers' minds is “Just how much will parents be spending?” and they now have their answer. A new poll by National Retail Federation shows that parents plan to spend more than previous years for the 2015-2016 school year. The survey looked at parents of school-age and college-age children, assessing their spending plans for school supplies and college supplies. Last year, NRF had a back-to-school survey conducted by Proper Insights and Analytics, and found that nearly one-quarter of families surveying were shopping two months before school started. Indeed, it seems that parents want to get what their kids need now, rather than wait till the last minute.

For this year's survey, NRF polled more than 6,400 adults with children in kidnergarten through twelfth grade, as well as parents of college-age children. The poll results showed that 29% of parents with school-age children (ages 6 to 17) planned to spend more than this year for back-to-school shopping. 24 percent of respondents said the same in last year's survey. 5.3 percent of respondents said they didn't shop for back-to-school at all last year, while 8.9 percent of people surveyed said they plan to spend less than they spent last year. 56.7 percent of parents in the poll said they planned to spend the same amount as last year. That result is close to last year's percentage.

Back-to-college spending results revealed a slight uptick from the precious year. When it came to college back-to-school shopping, almost three in 10 individuals surveyed said they planned to spend more than last year, up from 23 percent who answered the same last year. 24.5 percent of respondents said they didn't spend for back-to-college last year, and 13.5 percent plan to spend less this year. Of the more than 6,400 poll respondents, 10.3 percent had college-age children in their household.

NRF also looked at the amount parents planned to spend for the school year, and retailers should take note of the results, including how they plan to shop. More than 31 percent of the respondents for back-to-school shopping said they would compare prices online, with 32 percent of college shoppers planning the same. These results are up slightly from the last year, which saw nearly 28 percent of college shoppers plan to comparison shop online, and nearly 30 percent of school shoppers. NRF points out that retailers are already getting in gear for back-to-school and back-to-college shopping, with social media promotions, teacher targeted campaigns, and more by companies like Amazon, West Elm and GAP. Amazon also isn't overlooked another back-to-school shopper category, the teacher, as educators frequently purchase supplies out-of-pocket. The online shopping giant has offered a K-12 wish list option attached with a chance to win a $1,000 gift card for their classroom. 

NRF published their 2015 poll data in a blog post, and provided historical data for 2014 in their Retail Insights Center. A full survey for the topic will be released in mid-July.