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Report: Parents Save Rebate Checks for Back-to-School Shopping


Washington, D.C. Analysts may be predicting a back-to-school spending slump, but parents still want their kids start the school year in style. That’s why one-fifth of parents have saved a portion of their stimulus checks specifically for back-to-school shopping, according to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2008 Back-to-School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey.

The study, conducted by BIGresearch, is based on responses from 8,361 participants. The average family with school-aged children will spend $594.24 on back-to-school purchases, compared to $563.49 last year. Total back-to-school spending for kindergarten through 12th grade this year is estimated to reach $20.1 billion, the study said.

Spending in most categories will remain flat over last year, but electronics spending will continue to rise as many parents plan to spend some of their stimulus check on household electronics, such as computers and cell phones. Parents reported they will spend $151.61 on electronics purchases during the back-to-school timeframe, up from $129.24 last year.

Spending on clothing ($234.51 vs. $231.80 last year), shoes ($109.75 vs. $108.42) and school supplies ($98.47 vs. $94.02 last year) will see more moderate increases.

While parents are ready to shop, retailers still have their work cut out for them.

"Strong promotions and must-have brands will help retailers stand out in the crowd as shoppers look for the best bang for their buck this year," said Tracy Mullin, president and CEO, NRF. "While cost will be the deciding factor, some families will use rebate checks to soften the blow, and take advantage of promotions and deals when they can."

Taking their time to find bargains, 46.4% of parents will begin shopping at least three weeks before school begins. And hoping to stretch their dollar even farther this year, 73.0% of shoppers will be heading to discount stores, according to the study.

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