NRF Survey Says Back-to-School Shopping Going Slowly

According to the National Retail Federation’s Back-to-School Spending Survey, families are halfway through their shopping lists and may be waiting for prices to drop before buying more.

“As expected, families are carefully measuring where, when and how they should spend on fall apparel items, school supplies, electronics and other necessities,” said NRF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay in a statement. “Late summer promotions and sales-tax holidays around the country are likely contributing to the delay in Back-to-School shopping this year, which means the next few weeks could be exceptionally busy for retailers large and small.”

According to the survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family with kindergarten through high school–age children has completed 50.4 percent of its shopping. At the same time last year, families had completed 49.9 percent of their shopping. This year, 19.5 percent of those surveyed said they had not started Back-to-School shopping, compared with this time last year, when 23.6 percent said they had not started. Those who have already started Back-to-School shopping said about half (51.3 percent) of their purchases were determined by coupons, sales and promotions.

“Retailers, hoping to strike a chord with both budget-conscious and value-focused parents, will roll out hard-to-pass-up promotions designed to capture the attention of those last-minute shoppers,” Shay said.

The survey also asked parents where they would be spending their Back-to-School dollars. Most of the money (53.4 percent) will be spent at discount stores, while 46.8 percent will be spent at department stores, 36.6 percent will be spent at clothing stores and 12.8 percent will be spent at electronics stores. About a quarter (27.2 percent) plan to look for deals online.

NRF’s Back-to-College Spending Survey, also conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, found that many college students (49.1 percent) are about halfway through their shopping lists, while 24 percent haven’t started yet. The survey found that coupons, sales and promotions are also impacting their spending decisions.

The two surveys were conducted through a poll of 6,758 consumers in the first week of August.