Back to School with Last Year’s Supplies

School Supply SalesFor children who have spent a few short weeks splashing in pools, packing for family vacation and enjoying extended daylight after dinnertime, the new school year is a distant thought. For parents paying day camp fees and tired of hearing, “Are we there yet?” school days can’t come soon enough. But for retailers, the back to school shopping season is a reality right around the corner. The question is, will you be sharing in school kid woes or celebrating with parents? According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2011 Back-to-School survey conducted by BIGresearch, sales are looking a little flat and there is little change from last year’s statistics. “Families with children in grade K-12 will spend an average of $603.63 on apparel, school supplies and electronics, within a few dollars of last year’s $606.40 average.”

Budgets for Backpacks and More

While the worst of the recession is over, its impact continues to promote frugal spending; this doesn’t just mean reuse of last year’s items and less spending, but also active price and brand comparison. According to the survey, “American’s are compensating for the economy by purchasing more store brand or generic items (39.9 percent), comparison shopping more online (29.8 percent) and shopping for sales (50 percent).” The only boost in sales retailers can expect to see this back to school season is a slight increase in average spending on electronic devices, around $189.51. Much of the same is true for retailers targeting the college crowd, as a recent survey also, “found more college shoppers this year will make adjustments to their budgets because of the economy.”

Also, those retailers who began stocking their back to school items after the Fourth of July holiday are jumping the gun. Frugal parents will be waiting on their kids to take inventory of last year’s school items before purchasing anything new. “While most families will begin shopping three weeks to one month before school starts (42.4 percent), nearly one-third (31.2 percent) will begin their shopping one to two weeks before school starts.”

To read more about the findings of the 2011 Back-to-School survey, click HERE.