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School Shopping – Parents Spending More This Year?

My daughters and I wandered the mall last night, picking up packs of .25 cent glue sticks and $10 polo dresses. I’m not a fan of shopping back-to-school when summer is barely half over, but with the seasonal sales being pushed back into July, I can’t help but take advantage of the savings.

The National Retail Federation says that they’re cautiously optimistic that families are prepared to spend more on school shopping this year than they did last year. According to their 2010 Consumer Intentions and Actions Back to School survey, conducted by BIGresearch, the average family will spend $606.40 on school clothing and supplies, up from $548.72 last year and that consumers will spend $55.12 billion on back-to-school this year.

But are they being realistic? According to recent sales figures, maybe not. The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) puts that number closer to $38.4 billion. About.com’s Barbara Farfan has this to say about those conflicting figures:

From these disparate predictions we can probably safely conclude two things. One, retail trade associations have about as much objectivity as helicopter parents at a dance recital. Two, consumers do intend to spend money in the next two months, and retailers better be ready with the right products at the right price at the right time in order to best capitalize on the temporary spending mood.

On that, they can agree. The NRF found that:

  • 44.3 percent of parents will buy store or generic brands to save money, up from 41.7 percent last year.
    30.3 percent will shop comparatively online, up from 26.4 percent in 2009.
    7 out of 10 families will shop at discount stores
    Teens and pre-teens will be expected to chip in on school shopping with their own money.

So while parents might — might — be spending more this year, families are still using cost-cutting strategies to keep their school shopping budget intact.

Have you started school shopping yet?  Has your school shopping budget changed since last year?

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