Back-to-School Shoppers Like Discounts

August 23, 2010

Coupons, e-commerce and advertising inserts are all popular with K-12 and college back-to-school shoppers this year, according to new data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and BIGresearch.

Coupons, Internet Grow in Popularity
Seventeen percent of families with children in grades K-12 say 100% of their purchases were influenced by bargains and coupons, up from 14.7% last year. The survey also found more families will use the internet for school purchases this year. Up from 12.2% last year, 16% of K-12 families will finish their shopping online.


The survey also found coupons (38.6%) to be influential among a sizable share of families with children in college performing back-to-school shopping. Almost three in 10 (29.6%) of these families will shop online, up from 24.1% last year.

Inserts, In-store Promos Influence Families
When asked what types of media influence their back-to-school purchase decisions, 41.5% of families with children in grades K-12 said advertising inserts. Other top influencers include in-store promotions (39.6%), word of mouth (27.4%), TV commercials (27%), newspapers (25.5%), websites (22.7%) and direct mail (21.7%) were among the top media influencers when deciding why to shop at a particular store.

Meanwhile, the survey found in-store promotions (31%), word of mouth (29.5%), advertising inserts (28.9%), and TV/broadcast (23.7%) to be among the most influential media when it comes to shopping at a particular store for families with children in college.

6 in 10 K-12 Families Will Shop Discounters
Looking at verticals where families with children in grades K-12 plan to perform back-to-school shopping, six in 10 (59.3%) will shop at discount stores, while 42.7% will shop at department stores. Other popular destinations include clothing stores (34.3%) and office supply stores (32.4%).


Fewer K-12 families plan to shop at verticals such as thrift store/resale shops (11.4%), drug stores (11.1%), electronics stores (9.8%), and catalogs (4.7%).

Popular verticals for families shopping for college students include department stores (36.7%), and in contrast to K-12 shoppers, electronics stores (17.9%).

Wal-Mart Has Top Commercial for K-12 and College Shoppers
When asked which retailer has the best back-to-school TV commercial, K-12 survey respondents ranked the following retailers as the top 10:

1. Wal-Mart
2. Target
3. Staples
4. JCPenney
5. Kmart
6. Kohl’s
7. Old Navy
8. Office Depot
9. Office Max
10. Sears

Meanwhile, college shoppers had a slightly different top 10 list, although the top five retailers were identical:

1. Wal-Mart
2. Target
3. Staples
4. JCPenney
5. Kmart
6. Macy’s
7. Kohl’s
8. Best Buy
9. Office Depot
10. Office Max

Back-to-School Sales Forecast to Beat Past 2 Years
K-12 2010 back-to-school per capita family spending will rise 10.5% from 2009 levels and 2% from 2008 levels, according to other data from the Back-to-School Consumer Intentions and Actions survey.

The average US family will spend $606.40 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics for school-aged children K-12 this year, 10.5% more than $548.72 last year, and 2% more than $594.24 in 2008. Total spending on school-aged children in grades K-12 is expected to reach $21.35 billion, up 22.5% from $17.42 billion in 2009 and 6.2% from $20.1 billion in 2008.

Furthermore, total spending on back-to-college merchandise should slightly increase this year compared to 2009, but average per capita family spending will be a little lower, according to the survey. Spending on back-to-college merchandise should total $33.77 billion, up 12% from $30.08 billion in 2009 and 8% from $31.26 billion in 2008.

Despite the increase in total back-to-college spending, the average American family will spend 0.3% less this year ($616.13) than last year ($618.12). However, this year’s spending will represent a 2.8% hike from $599.38 in 2008.

About the Data: This poll of 8,201 consumers was conducted from August 3-10, 2010.

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