Friday July 20th, 2012 - 12:57PM
Department stores and online retailers can expect to win more sales even as consumers spend more on back to school products this year, according to a National Retail Federation study. NRF’s 2012 Back-to-School spending survey, conducted by BIGinsight, determined that the average person with children in grades K-12 will spend $688.62 on their children, up from $603.63 last year.
Total spending is expected to reach $30.3 billion.
Combined K-12 and college spending will reach $83.8 billion, serving as the second biggest consumer spending event for retailers behind the winter holidays.
An interesting element in the survey is the increased popularity of department stores as a back-to-school shopping destination. In the study, more families said they would shop at department stores this year, but they still will look for bargains. The desire to shop department stores and save money has driven consumers to pay more attention to private label products. Six in 10 consumers will shop department store private labels and exclusive brands, up from 57% last year. At 59.9%, this year's figure for private/exclusive brand shopping is the highest in the survey’s 10-year history, NRF related.
Not surprisingly, the Internet has become a more popular means of making dollars stretch as financial prospects have narrowed for many consumers. At a time when Walmart is putting thousands of school shopping lists online, more consumers say they will take their own menu of required back-to-school purchases to the Internet, with 39.6% doing so this year versus 31.7% last year and 21.4% five years past. This year, 32.1% of consumers plan on price-comparing online versus 29.8% last year, and 17.9% of survey respondents said they plan to shop the Internet versus 15.3% last year. In addition, buying more store/generic brands and checking circulars are strategies consumer are employing to cope with a sluggish economy, as are making do with last year’s stuff, shopping for sales more often, using coupons on additional occasions and just spending less.
Still, discount stores remain the most popular back-to-school shopping destination among retail channels with 67.1% of consumers planning to shop there in the purchasing period. Destinations following are clothing stores, 52%, office supplies stores, 42%, drug stores, 22.7%, and thrift stores, 14.4%. In another interesting development, electronics stores, which have traveled rough sales waters recently, should get a boost from families looking to invest in smartphones, tablets and MP3 players for their children, NRF noted, as 26.3% of survey respondents plan to visit this year as compared with 21.7% in 2011.
Parents will make their biggest outlays on clothing, accessories and electronics this summer. They will spend an average of $246.10 on clothes and $217.88 on electronics, according to the study. More back to school shoppers, 59.6%, plan to purchase some sort of electronic device this year versus those who planned to do so at the time of last year's study, 51.9%.
Bargains remain a critical consideration for back-to-school shoppers as 84.8% with school-aged children said the economy would impact their spending plans in some way. Specifically, more people plan to shop for sales, 51.1% versus 50% last year, and cut back on their children’s extracurricular activities, 11% versus 10.2% last year.