Clothing Retailers, Elementary Students to Benefit Most From Back-to-School Shopping: Survey

Shoppers are allocating their budgets differently this year, with a shift to gadget purchases for elementary students, increases in clothing purchases for all age groups and reduced back-to-school budgets for high school students.

That’s the conclusion of the “Back-to-School Shopping Consumer Behavior Report,” conducted between May 12 and June 1 of 1,718 online consumers, by PriceGrabber, a part of Dublin-based Experian.

Back-to-school shoppers are making significant efforts to stay within their budget this year. Survey data also reveals that shoppers are allocating their budgets differently, which has created some interesting shifts in year-over-year consumer behavior.

One shift in back-to-school purchasing behavior involves the number of gadgets that will be purchased for elementary school students; that figure has almost doubled since last year. This year, 15 percent of elementary school students will start school with a new laptop, 13 percent will have computer accessories, and 10 percent will receive a new cell phone or smartphone. This is a significant change from 2009, when 7 percent of elementary school students received a laptop, 7 percent received computer accessories, and 6 percent had a new cell phone or smartphone.

Additionally, the intent to purchase back-to-school clothing increased for all age groups compared with last year. Eighty-five percent of back-to-school shoppers plan to purchase clothing for elementary school students this year, compared with 78 percent last year. In 2010, 82 percent plan to purchase clothing for middle school students, compared with 77 percent in 2009. Eighty-four percent plan to purchase clothing for high school students, up from 74 percent in 2009. This year, 60 percent of shoppers are buying clothing for college students, compared with 47 percent last year.

“The trends we are seeing in shoppers’ back-to-school clothing purchases this year indicate that although they continue to be focused on budget-minded spending, older students in particular are expanding their wardrobes, which would indicate a shift towards discretionary clothing purchases,” said stated Laura Conrad, president of PriceGrabber. “This demonstrates consumers are feeling more confident about the economy this year than last.”

Survey data also revealed that back-to-school shoppers plan to spend less on items for high school students than on other age groups. Fifty percent of back-to-school shoppers plan to spend more than $250 on high school students (9th-12th grade). Back-to-school shoppers plan to spend even more on elementary school students, with 52 percent planning to fork over $250 or more on elementary school students (K-5th grade). This is followed by 62 percent of back-to-school shoppers who plan to spend more than $250 on middle/junior high school students (6th-8th grade), and 67 percent planning to spend more than $250 on college/junior college students (higher than 12th grade).

While back-to-school shoppers are planning to spend more in certain areas, they’re still looking for the best value. Fifty-one percent of consumers revealed that they plan to make last-minute purchases to take advantage of price drops.

Many consumers also are turning to their mobile phones to help ensure they’re getting the best deals. Seventeen percent of back-to-school shoppers plan to use their mobile phones to comparison-shop while in brick-and-mortar stores. Consumers are not only comparison-shopping from their mobile phones, but 7 percent also plan to do standalone shopping from their phones.

PriceGrabber, a part of Experian, is a leading online shopping site with more than 23 million unique shoppers monthly. Experian provides data and analytical tools to clients in more than 90 countries.

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