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Back To School And Back To College Shopping Outlook for 2015

Written by: Carolyn Berk, Content Marketing Associate

It may be summer vacation for most students, but for retailers, it’s time to get ready for the back-to-school shopping season. This year, total spending in preparation for the K-12 and college school year is expected to reach $68 billion. Where will that money be spent, and what will it be spent on? A recent survey from the National Retail Federation provides a detailed forecast for retailers. Read on for more about what to expect for this year’s back-to-school and back-to-college shopping season.

When customers will shop

K-12

K-12 Shopping Time BTS 2015 Trends Blog

Many families are getting a jump start on back-to-school shopping for their children, with 42.8% of those surveyed saying that they plan on getting shopping done at least three weeks to one month before the start of school. 30.3%  say they will take care of shopping one to two weeks before school starts. Meanwhile, 19.6% say they plan to shop at least two months before the start of school. Of those early shoppers, 64.9% of them say they’re starting early so they can spread out their shopping budget, 51.1% say it’s to avoid crowds, and 45.3% say they get a head start because prices or promotions are too good to pass up.

College

College times BTS 2015 Trends Blog

Students heading to college are also early birds when it comes to school shopping. 37.4% of surveyed college students say they’ll start shopping three weeks to one month before school starts, while 23.7% say they’ll wait until one to two weeks before the start of school. 23.6% of surveyed college students say they’ll start shopping at least two months before the start of school so they can spread out shopping budgets (65.8%), take advantage of the best prices and promotions (49.3%), and avoid crowds (37.9%).

How customers will buy

K-12

This year, 35.6% of surveyed parents say they will be buying back-to-school products for their kids online. Of those who shop online, 92.1% say they will take advantage of free shipping, while 48.4% say they’ll take advantage of opportunities to buy products online and then pick them up in stores.

Devices like smartphones and tablets also play a role in back-to-school shopping. Of those surveyed who owned smartphones, 34.3% say they plan on using it to research products and compare prices. Of surveyed tablet owners, 41.1% say they plan on using it to research and compare prices.

Keep in mind that parents’ opinions aren’t the only ones that matter. 86.4% of surveyed parents say that one-quarter or more of their back-to-school purchases are a direct result of their child’s influence.

College

39.3% of surveyed college students say they’ll be doing their back-to-school shopping online this year. Of those online shoppers, 90.2% of them plan on taking advantage of free shipping options, while 46.9% of them will take advantage of opportunities to buy products online and pick them up in stores.

College students will be using other devices to help them prepare for the school year. Of surveyed smartphone owners, 41% will use their phones to research products and compare prices, while 31.4% say they’ll make back-to-school purchases on their phones. Meanwhile, 46.2% of surveyed tablet owners say they’ll use them to research products and compare prices, and 35.2% of them said they plan to use their tablets to make purchases.

How much customers will spend

K-12

Parents are predicted to spend an average of $630.36 on their children during the back-to-school shopping season. This amount is down slightly from last year’s average of $669.28. Here’s how much surveyed parents say they plan to spend on each type of item:

Apparel

$217.82

Electronics

$197.24

Shoes

$117.56

School Supplies

$97.74

College

College students are expected to spend an average of $899.18 during this year’s back-to-school shopping season. That’s a slight dip from last year’s average of $916.48. Below are the types of products they expect to buy, and how much they plan to spend:

Electronics

$207.27

Apparel

$136.95

Dorm or Apartment Furnishings

$126.30

Food Items

$117.98

Personal Care Items

$78.02

Shoes

$72.79

School Supplies

$66.70

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