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Survey: Back-to-school shoppers will spend more, but wisely


Parents making back-to-school purchases are willing to open their wallets, if the price is right.

That’s according to a new study from digital savings platform RetailMeNot Inc., "Back-to-School Cheat Sheet: Consumer Trends and Insights for Retailers," back-to-school shoppers plan to spend an average of $273 per child, up from their anticipated spending of $246 in 2015.

Nearly nine in 10 parents surveyed (86%) plan on shopping for back-to-school supplies this summer. More than two in five (42%) said that they plan to spend between $100 and $500 per student this fall. Another 12% plan to spend more than $500 on back-to-school merchandise for each child.

However, more than half (56%) of respondents look for back-to-school deals regularly. Nearly one-third (28%) of parents said that back-to-school shopping is a strain on their family's finances. Females are more likely than males to always seek a deal.

When evaluating a promotion, the most popular offer is a percentage off the total purchase (38%). Tax-free savings are especially popular among many consumers in the South. And deals are popular with shoppers regardless of their household income. Of those respondents who earned $150,000 or more a year, one in three say that they search for deals every time they shop.

The majority of parents still prefer to head in-store, with more than half (56%) expecting to buy supplies mostly or completely in a physical store. There is good news for retailers hoping to catch online shoppers, as well. Thirty-two percent of consumers will shop equally online and in-store for back-to-school items. Fewer than one in 10 will shop mostly or completely online.

Back-to-school shopping habits vary, including how often and when shoppers make it to the stores. Most parents prefer to begin their shopping later in the season, with 50% preferring to start in August or September. However, nearly two in five (38%) parents will begin in June or July, the majority of those beginning in July. More than any other region, consumers in the South (where the new school year often starts in early August) tend to shop earlier, with 37% starting in July.

Looking at how respondents time their back-to-school purchases, 26% say they buy items as they go on sale, 24% do all of their shopping on one weekend, and 23% plan to shop several days or weeks throughout the summer. One in five say that they shop throughout the year, as do one in three respondents who plan to spend$1,000 or more.

Results are based on two separate surveys of Americans age 18 and older. The first survey was conducted among 1,011 respondents using Google Consumer Surveys between June 8 and 10, 2016. The second survey was conducted by Kelton Global between June 10 and 16, 2016, among 1,007 respondents.
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