Families Keep Back-to-School Shopping Simple

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It may seem like school just went out on recess, but families across the United States are already gearing up for the back-to-school season. JLL’s Back-to-School Consumer Shopping Survey looks at how parents are budgeting for the season, where they buy clothing and supplies and the most important factors influencing their shopping trips.

“Back-to-school shopping is unlike any retail season because it’s based around necessity purchases – replacing ou­tgrown clothes and stocking up on the essential supplies for the year ahead. This year we’re seeing parents seeking simplicity and one-stop shopping. More than half of parents we surveyed want to keep their trips to one or two stores which lead to discount stores ranking as the most popular destination,” said Greg Maloney, CEO of Retail, JLL.

  • Who was surveyed: More than 1,000 parents of school-aged children in the U.S. were surveyed on their plans for back-to-school shopping. Men and women plan to shop quite differently, with men more likely to wait until the last minute, while women tend to plan it out a month or more in advance.
  • What’s the budget: Nearly two-thirds of families budgeted $250 or less for all their back-to-school needs, with only one-quarter indicating spend between $251 and $500. With tight budgets, families are focusing on price and selection when it comes to buying goods for their youngsters.
  • What are families buying: Clothes and accessories make up just over 56 percent of back-to-school budgets. Stationary and supplies will eat up over one-quarter of budgets, with electronics (8 percent) and books (6 percent) trailing significantly behind.
  • Where are families shopping: Online shopping for back-to-school accounts for 17 percent of where purchasing occurs versus brick-and-mortar stores at 83 percent. The further outside a metro area, the less likely a shopper is to purchase back-to-school items online. Urban shoppers are the most likely to buy back-to-school items online with 18 percent heading to their computers versus a store – followed by 17 percent of suburban shoppers and just 16 percent of rural ones. The survey also found that more than 50 percent of parents are only heading to one or two stores this year.
  • When: More than half (57 percent) of parents start shopping for clothes and supplies more than two weeks before the school bell rings.

“The back-to-school season is critical for many retailers – it’s second only to the holidays in terms of the amount that parents spend on kids. This year the competition is fierce with the majority of parents indicating they are only going to a couple of stores, and we expect to see even more discounting price wars between retailers on things like supplies to help capture shoppers,” said James Cook, Americas Director of Retail Research, JLL.



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