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Accenture survey: Discounters continue to dominate back-to-school shopping


New York City -- Discount stores will continue to dominate as the destination for the majority of consumers’ back-to-school dollars this year, with office supply stores also remaining strong, according to a survey by Accenture on parents’ back-to-school shopping plans. The majority of parents (59%) will spend between $100 and $500 on back-to-school shopping this year, with 21% of consumers saying they plan to spend more than $500 this year. That’s down from 28% in 2010, indicating a decline in spending on the big ticket items for school.

Indeed, the survey found that only one-quarter (25%) of parents plan to purchase computers, cell phones and other electronic items for their children, down from 36% in 2010. At the top of back-to-school shopping lists are school supplies such as pens and paper (87%) and clothing (80%), followed by shoes (67%), accessories such as backpacks (66%) and dorm/apartment furnishings (18%).

“Necessity, not desire, will drive this year’s back-to-school season purchases,” said Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice. “Parents will be spending less on themselves to fund these purchases, and they will spend their dollars where they find the right mix of discounts, quality and convenience. Spending will neither be penny-pinching nor excessive, so retailers will need to keep a keen focus on inventory levels and delivering a targeted offer that meets their customers’ needs.”

Parents said their top three priorities when choosing a retailer for back-to-school products are: pricing and discounts (91%); quality of the products (69); and in-stock product (49%). Store experiences such as customer service and loyalty programs once again ranked low on the list of priorities.

In other key findings:

  • Half of parents (50%) said that they would do “none” of their back-to-school shopping online. Only 4% said “all” or “most” of their shopping would be done online.

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