Back-to-School Shoppers Still Stocking Up

Consumers have completed a little more than half of their shopping for the back-to-school season, according to the National Retail Federation.
License Global

August 24, 2018

Back-to-School Shoppers Still Stocking Up

The results are a part of an annual survey conducted by NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

The study, which was conducted Aug. 1-10, showed that customers completed 51 percent of supply shopping for k-12 supplies and 52 percent for college gear, an increase from 45 percent in both categories last year.

Of school shoppers, 17 percent were done shopping entirely, 21 percent had not bought anything and 66 percent were waiting two weeks or less to start shopping. Of college shoppers, 15 percent were done shopping, 23 percent hadn’t bought anything and 69 percent planned to wait until two weeks or less.

Some consumers cited waiting for deals and not knowing what they needed as the reasons why they had not done their shopping.

NRF estimates consumers will spend $27.5 billion on K-12 and $55.3 billion on college this year.

“If students aren’t in class already, they will be soon, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve finished buying their supplies or new clothes,” says Matthew Shay, chief executive

officer and president, NRF. “There’s still more shopping to do, and regardless of timing, the economy is healthy and shoppers are confident and willing to spend.”

Among survey respondents, 73 percent say they need to buy necessary supplies including notebooks or pencils, followed by apparel (65 percent) and shoes (54 percent). Fifty-one percent of purchases were influenced by deals and promotions including coupons (37 percent), in-store promotions (36 percent) and advertising inserts (29 percent) that caused shoppers to visit a particular store.

Almost two-thirds of shoppers (64 percent) were guided by school requirements when making purchase decisions, with 17 percent reporting that their school required pre-packaged supply kits and 34 percent reporting they didn’t have that option though they liked the idea. Another 38 percent expressed no interest.

Shoppers planned to finish their lists at department stores (49 percent), discount stores (45 percent), clothing stores (34 percent) and online (29 percent).

For college shoppers, 57 percent needed to purchase school supplies; apparel (41 percent); while personal care items such as shampoo or toothpaste were tied with electronics (31 percent).

The survey revealed that 38 percent of shoppers were influenced by coupons, followed by in-store promotions (30 percent), then newspaper inserts and word-of-mouth, both at 24 percent. Consumers planned to finish their shopping at department stores (42 percent), college bookstores (37 percent) and online (36 percent).

“Consumers have been spending steadily throughout the back-to-school season, and taking advantage of events like sales tax holidays that make school supplies more affordable in a number of states,” says Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategy, Prosper Insights. “Even so, many shoppers are waiting in the hope of finding last-minute deals.”

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