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Back-to-School Shopping: More Families are Focused on Generic Products and Comparison Shopping This Year

Having outgrown shoes, shirts and even backpacks they’ve used the last two years, children heading back to school this year will arrive in style. The National Retail Federation’s 2010 Consumer Intentions and Actions Back to School survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found that the average American family will spend $606.40 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics, compared to $548.72 last year, and close to the $594.24 in 2008. Total spending on school-aged children in grades K-12 is expected to reach $21.35 billion.

Combined K-12 and college spending will reach $55.12 billion, serving as the second biggest consumer spending event for retailers behind the winter holidays.

“We are encouraged by the fact that parents are eager to start their back to school shopping this year, but the industry still remains cautiously optimistic about recovery,” said NRF President and CEO Matt Shay. “As the second half of the year gets under way, retailers will gauge their customers’ spending appetites, which often serve as a bellwether for the all-important holiday season.”
There remains no question that the economy will continue to play a role in American families’ back to school preparations. This year’s survey found that 44.3 % of Americans will buy more store brand or generic products, compared to 41.7 % last year. Additionally, more parents will comparative shop online (30.3% vs. 26.4% in 2009.)

Most families agree that growing children means growing apparel budgets. Spending on apparel will take up the majority of consumers’ budgets with the average family of school-aged kids expected to spend $225.47 on jeans, shirts and other types of clothing. Running the gamut from laptops and net books to smart phones and MP3 players, parents are expected to spend an average of $181.60 on their children’s electronic or computer-related school needs. Families will also spend an average of $102.93 on shoes and $96.39 on school supplies.

As far as where families will shop this year, 7 in 10 (71.2%) will head to a discount store and more than half (53.9%) will visit their favorite department store. Whether to save a few bucks and compare prices or simply because of the convenience, more people will shop online this year (30.8% vs. 22.2% last year

“Many of today’s shoppers are smarter than any other generation before them, especially when it comes to finding the best price,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch.

About the Survey
NRF’s 2010 Back to School and Back to College Consumer Intentions and Actions Surveys were designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to back to school spending and back to college spending. The surveys were conducted for NRF by BIGresearch.

About the Author
Kathy Grannis is the Director of Media Relations at the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association. National Retail Federation’s global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the U.S. and more than 45 countries abroad. In the U.S., NRF represents the breadth and diversity of an industry with more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2009 sales of $2.3 trillion.

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