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Survey: Parents in no hurry to finish up back-to-school shopping


Retailers still have time to capitalize on their second biggest selling season of the year.

Only 45% of households with children in grades K-12 had completed their shopping as of early August, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. That’s down from 52% at the same time in 2013 and 48% last year.

Of parents surveyed August 1-9, only 13% had completed all their shopping, and 23% had not started at all. The results come even though the number of parents who planned to start shopping at least two months before the beginning of school was up this year at 27%, compared with 22% last year.

NRF has forecast that families will spend $83.6 billion on back-to-school this year, including $29.5 billion on K-12 and $54.1 billion on college. To wrap up their buying, 55% planned to head to department stores, 49% to discount stores, 39% to clothing stores, 35% to office supply stores and 33% online.

When deciding where to shop, 41% said they are influenced by coupons, down from 48% last year and the lowest in the survey’s history. But 33% said they would leverage in-store promotions and 29% said they would be influenced by newspaper advertising inserts.

The survey found that 61% of school supply purchases were influenced by school requirements. Similarly, 41% of electronics purchases were dictated by what schools required.

“Similar to recent years, some of the big-ticket items are being significantly influenced by school requirements,” Prosper principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said. “That is why we are seeing many parents take their time in tackling their lists so they can take advantage of any special promotions that can help them save on items such as laptops and computers.”

Overall, the results for college students were largely the same, with students and their parents saying they, too, had completed 45% of their shopping, down from 48% last year. Only 12% had completed all their shopping and 26% had not started at all.

The survey found college consumers will likely complete the rest of their shopping online (41%), at discount or department stores (38%each), college bookstores (32%) and clothing stores (31%).

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