BTS, College Spending Hits Halfway Mark

Despite back-to-school shopping starting earlier this year, the average family has only completed 48 percent of their shopping as of early August, slightly down from last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

November 8, 2019

BTS, College Spending Hits Halfway Mark

Consumers report that they will use coupons and advertising inserts to finish their BTS shopping.


The NRF’s findings are a part of its annual survey conducted with Prosper Insights and Analytics.

According to the survey, 13 percent of families with children in grades K-12 have completed their shopping lists. However, 22 percent of families have not started shopping, up from last year’s 20 percent. Of those surveyed, 77 percent need to buy school supplies, 70 percent need clothing and 57 percent need shoes.

The analysis also found that 53 percent of consumers will finish their shopping at discount stores, 51 percent at department stores, 39 percent at clothing stores and 37 percent at office supply stores. Furthermore, 31 percent of consumers will shop online, up from last year’s 27 percent and the highest in the survey’s history.

Additionally, 48 percent of parents reported

using coupons. Other consumers stated that they would take advantage of in-store promotions (39 percent) and advertising inserts (33 percent) to complete their lists.

Meanwhile, college students have completed nearly 48 percent of their shopping, slightly down from 49 percent last year. However, 15 percent of consumers have completed their shopping lists, down from 19 percent at this point last year. Of those surveyed, 61 percent of consumers still need to purchase school supplies, followed by clothing (50 percent) and personal care items (33 percent).

The study also discovered that college consumers were likely to finish their shopping at discount stores (42 percent, the lowest in the survey’s history), followed by department stores (42 percent, the highest in the survey’s history) and online shopping (40 percent, also a survey high).

Additionally, 42 percent of college consumer reported using coupons to complete their shopping lists. Other college shoppers noted they would take advantage of in-store promotions (32 percent) and advertising inserts (29 percent).

“It is evident that many families are still considering price and value when shopping for their back-to-school and college needs,” says Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer, NRF. “Shopping early and often is a trend we have seen from many budget-conscious consumers over the last few years. In the weeks ahead, parents will take advantage of the aggressive deals that retailers will offer as they get ready to welcome the fall season merchandise.”

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