SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Special Report

July 27, 2012

Back-to-school spending grows as parents restock, replenish

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Economy a factor

After several years of uncertainty it seems the economy is still affecting how people shop. From shopping for sales more often to contemplating their children’s athletic and academic activities, this year 84.8 percent of consumers with school-aged children say the economy will affect their spending plans in some way.

Specifically, more people plan to shop for sales more often (51.1% vs. 50.0% last year) and cut back on their children’s extracurricular activities (11.0% vs. 10.2% last year.)

Savvy shoppers looking to save some money will shop online more often (17.9% vs. 15.3% last year) and comparison shop online (32.1% vs. 29.8% last year.)

Internet playing big role

If there’s one thing the economy has changed it’s the way people shop. This year more families say they will shop at department stores and online for school items as they look to get the best bang for their buck. Nearly six in 10 (59.9%) will take advantage of department stores’ private label offerings and exclusive product lines, up from 57.0 percent last year and the highest in the survey’s 10-year history.

Parents will also scour the Internet for free-shipping and other promotions. Nearly four in 10 (39.6%) will take their school shopping lists online, up from 31.7 percent last year and nearly doubling since 2007 when 21.4 percent planned to shop online.

Discount stores will be the most popular shopping destination, however, with 67.1 percent planning to shop there for school items. Clothing stores (52.0%), office supplies stores (42.0%), drug stores (22.7%) and thrift stores (14.4%) will also see their share of back-to-school shoppers. Electronic stores, popular with families looking to invest in smartphones, tablets and MP3 players for their children, will see a nice bump in traffic this year (26.3% vs. 21.7% last year.)

“The budget-conscious consumer has not forgotten about price, quality or value, we’re merely seeing a more savvy shopper,” said BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “There’s no questions consumers have become more practical in their shopping, and with school purchases oftentimes considered a necessity, parents have likely been saving and scrimping to be able to fully afford all of their children’s needs for the upcoming school year.”

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.

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