NRF: Americans Tardy with Back-to-School Shopping

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NRF: Americans Tardy with Back-to-School Shopping

By Stacy Straczynski - 08/18/2009
While the new school year may be just around the corner, the majority of consumers have yet to finish stocking up on needed school supplies, according to the National Retail Federation.

The average American family still had over half of their back-to-school shopping to complete as of Aug. 11, according to the findings. Consumers with children in grades K to 12 reported completing only 41.6 percent of their shopping, and 30.5 percent had yet to start their shopping at all.

Additionally, 41.9 percent of families with college students said they still needed to start their back-to-school shopping.

Consumers who have yet to shop will be on the lookout for bargains. More than 60 percent plan to make purchases at discount stores, while others will visit department stores (44.8 percent) and clothing stores (31.8 percent).

“Price is an important factor when it comes to back-to-school shopping, but there are other aspects to consider,” said Mike Gatti, executive director of the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, a division of Washington-based NRF, in a statement. “Unique and creative marketing campaigns, coupled with the right prices, will be the key to driving sales as the summer comes to a close.”

Coupons and other discounts have played a large role in back-to-school purchasing decisions for families with children. Roughly half (47.8 percent) of those who already bought supplies reported making a purchase due to promotions. Store coupons held the largest sway, according to 43.4 percent of respondents, followed by ad inserts (42.1 percent), newspapers (32.2 percent) and in-store promotions (32.1 percent). Word of mouth and direct mail, at 29.9 and 16.2 percent, respectively, also drove sales.

Web sites held little purchasing influence for most, as many consumers had already planned to visit that particular store before browsing online. Less than 20 percent of shoppers said they were influenced by the Web in terms of where to shop. Walmart, Target, JCPenney and Staples were named among the top five store sites.