Beauty Store Business magazine - October, 2019

After Splurging in 2014, Families Trim Back-to-School

After spending more on school supplies and electronics in 2014, parents this year will head into the back-to-school season evaluating what their children really need before spending on new items.

According to the National Retail Federation’s Back-to-School Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family with children in grades K-12 plans to spend $630.36 on school needs, down from $669.28 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $24.9 billion.

Additionally, indicating the continued growth in the back-to-school arena, families on average have spent 42% more on back to school over the past 10 years. Total spending for K-12 and college is expected to reach $68 billion.

Regardless of the slight decrease, survey results point to a more confident consumer when it comes to spending and the impact of the economy. The survey found 76% of families with school-age children say they will change their spending because of the economy, the lowest in the seven years NRF has been tracking it, and down from 81% last year.

“As seen over the last 13 years, spending on back-to-school has consistently fluctuated based on children’s needs each year, and it’s unlikely most families would need to restock and replenish apparel, electronics and supplies every year,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Parents this summer will inventory their children’s school supplies and decide what is needed and what can be reused, which just makes good budgeting sense for families with growing children.

“Heading into the second half of the year, we are optimistic that economic growth and consumer spending will improve after a shaky first half of the year,” continued Shay.

Solid growth in job creation and consumer confidence have greatly contributed to the economic recovery, which could be positively impacting how families shop for school items this year. The survey found 41% of those who say the economy is impacting their spending plans will look for sales more often, down from the 46% last year and the lowest since NRF began tracking this in 2009. Additionally, 30% will buy more generic or store-brand products, down from 34% last year and another survey low.

More families with children in grades K-12 are opting to wait before rushing out to shop:
20% will shop at least two months before school; vs. 23% last year
43% will shop at least three weeks to one month before school; vs. 45% last year 30% will shop one to two weeks before school; vs. 25% last year

Families plan to shop around:
56% local department store
62% discount store
54% clothing store
22% electronics store
36% office supply stores
36% online

Shoppers intend to use retailers’ omnichannel offerings:
49% will take advantage of retailers’ buy-online, pick up in-store or ship-to-store options
17% will look for expedited shipping offers
91% will take advantage of free shipping offers

“Savvy and budget-conscious parents today have plenty of experience when it comes to looking around for great deals and value-added promotions, and it seems mom and dad will use that to their advantage this summer to take advantage of retailers’ omnichannel services,” said Prosper’s principal analyst Pam Goodfellow. “To ease hectic schedules and long shopping lists, it’s likely that we’ll continue to see consumers try out and regularly use services like free shipping, reserve online and even same-day delivery—options busy parents have been waiting for.”

Millennials will use omnichannel options more than others:
66% of 18-to-24-year-olds will use a buy online, pick up in-store or ship-to-store options
65% of 25-to-34-year-olds will use a buy online, pick up in-store or ship-to-store options
15% of 25-to-34-year-olds will use a reserve online option
9% of average adults will use a reserve online option
23% of 18-to-24-year-olds will use same-day delivery
10% of average adults will use same-day delivery

Children will influence purchases:
86% of school shoppers say their children will influence one-quarter or more of their back-to-school purchases. And for the smaller purchases, children plan to chip in some of their own money. Teens will dole out $33.27, and pre-teens will spend an average $17.57.

According to NRF’s 2015 Back-to-College Spending Survey, families with children in college and college students will spend an average of $899.18, down slightly from $916.48 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $43.1 billion. Combined spending for school and college will reach $68 billion.

NRF also asked its college survey respondents about their plans to take advantage of retailers’ omnichannel services:
91% of college shoppers will use free shipping offers
47% will use buy-online, pick up in-store or ship-to-store services
16% will take advantage of expedited shipping offers for those last-minute online purchases
7% of college shoppers plan to use same-day delivery
19% of 25-to-34-year-olds plan to use the convenient service

More college shoppers will wait to begin tackling their lists this summer, similar to back-to-school shoppers:
23.6% will start at least two months before school starts; vs. 28% last year
37% will shop three weeks to one month before school; vs. 33% last year
24% will start one to two weeks before school; vs. 26% last year

Of those who say they will start at least two months out:
66% will do so to spread out their budgets
49% will do so because prices and promotions are too good to pass up
27% don’t want to miss out on desired items
35% want to avoid the stress of last-minute shopping

[Image: Getty Images/Moment Collection]