Parents Making Sacrifices for Back-to-School Shopping: Survey

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Parents Making Sacrifices for Back-to-School Shopping: Survey


A new study has found that 64 percent of parents say that they spend less on themselves at back-to-school time to ensure they can buy their children what they need.

“Prices and discounts will be top of mind for parents as they start their back to school shopping. They are still cautious of overspending, but they will be diverting their spending from other areas, to make sure their kids have the back-to-school items that they need,” said Janet Hoffman, managing director at Accenture Retail Practice. “The back-to-school shopping season is always a tough one for parents, and now more than ever, retailers need to deliver a shopping experience focused on ease of purchase, availability of products, price and quality.”

A quarter of parents said they “dread” back-to-school shopping, while 22 percent said they believe there’s more pressure than ever before for kids to have what their friends have. To that end, 38 percent said back-to-school shopping lists are getting larger and more expensive.

Discount stores will continue to dominate as the destination for back-to-school shopping this year. Office supply stores and department stores will remain strong. But other retailers such as drug stores, grocery stores and electronics stores are grabbing a noticeable share of consumers’ dollars.

According to the study, 87 percent of parents will shop at discount/mass merchandise stores, 58 percent at office supply stores, 43 percent at department stores, 32 percent at drug stores, 24 percent at electronics goods stores, 24 percent at grocery stores, 20 percent at specialty stores, 18 percent at online-only retailers and 15 percent at home stores.

Parents said their top three priorities when choosing a retailer for back-to-school products are pricing and discounts (89 percent), quality of the products (74 percent), and in-stock products (48 percent). Store experiences such as customer service and store atmosphere ranked low on the list of priorities when choosing a store.

More than a third (35 percent) of parents said they plan to purchase electronic products such as computers, cell phones and other electronic items for their children. Basic school supplies like pens and paper (86 percent) and clothing (81 percent) are at the top of back-to-school shopping lists. Other items on the shopping list include shoes (67 percent), accessories like backpacks (64 percent), and dorm/apartment furnishings (20 percent).

More than half of consumers (53 percent) will spend between $100 and $500 on back-to-school shopping this year, and 28 percent of consumers plan to spend more than $500 on back-to-school shopping. Half of parents (50 percent) said they plan to spend the same amount on back-to-school shopping as last year, 30 percent plan to spend more money than last year, and 20 percent plan to spend less money than last year.

Of those consumers who said they’ll spend more this year, 51 percent claimed schools are requiring more this year, and 57 percent said that the cost of items has increased. Only 11 percent are spending more because they have more discretionary income to spend this year.

Of those consumers who said they’ll spend less this year, 44 percent cited having less discretionary income as the reason, 30 percent have more worries about the economy this year, and 18 percent feel they have less job security.

This survey was conducted online from July 30 to Aug. 2, 2010, among 502 adults age 18 and over who have children entering school this year.

New York-based Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 190,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries.