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Back-to-School Shopping Behavior Forecast

Posted on July 19th, 2016

School supplies on a table

As the mid-point for July passes, parents with children in K-12 and college begin to notice back-to-school shopping promotions and sales creeping into their mind.  Last year, the National Retail Federal, NRF for short, conducted a survey that found more families are waiting until 1-3 weeks before the start of the school year to buy their supplies. This behavior is continuing this year, with many parents delaying their shopping trips until the right deal comes around.

This year, the NRF polled more than 6,800 adults and found 54 percent of households with school-age kids (6-17) are planning to spend the same amount as last year for back to school, slightly lower compared to 54 percent of the previous year.

back-to-school shopping behavior 2016

back-to-school shopping behavior 2016

Although back-to-school budget for parents remains the same, shoppers changed their spending behaviors by waiting for sales or coupons before buying supplies. According to the survey, parents of school-age children plan to use more coupons and shop for sales more often. Additionally, brand names are losing value in the eyes of parents. Over 26 percent of parents prefer generic or store brands over the pricier name brand alternative. Parents of college kids show the greatest increase in smarter shopping with 30 percent opting to shop for sales and 27 percent planning to do more comparative shopping online.

Overall, parents of both college and K-12 children are shopping more frugally and wisely picking up their items during back-to-school sales. In order to save more money, 17 percent of parents are even opting to reuse last year’s school items and only purchasing materials on an as-need basis.

While this survey is only a forecast of behavioral changes, retailers are already preparing their stores and websites for the increase in traffic from the back to school season.


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