The calendar only reads July 21 but should retailers be concerned that the back-to-school shopping season this year is going to be a bust? Maybe so.
A survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), conducted by BIGresearch earlier this month, reveals that consumers will likely reign in spending on school supplies in 2011–families with kids between kindergarten and grade 12 are expected to spend roughly $603.63 during the back-to-school season, which would be a decrease of 0.5 percent from last year.
Total spending for the retail industry’s second most-important shopping period of the year, for K-12 and college combined, is expected to total about $68.8 billion.
Still, high prices at the gas pump combined with continued record unemployment around the country seem to have already hurt the prospects for a bigger back-to-school season. As a result, shoppers are going to be looking for deals wherever they can find them and retailers that hope to survive will need to oblige.
“Families aren’t opposed to spending on what they need, but parents want their children to take a good look around at what they already have before deciding what to buy for back to school this year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a statement. “Retailers understand consumers are extremely focused on value and are taking this opportunity to offer substantial savings on merchandise.”
The survey polled 8,694 shoppers in early July. Highlights from the data include:
–57 percent of respondents will shop at department stores, targeting private label brands that are often a cheaper alternative;
–Electronics won’t be nearly as sought-after this year, with slightly more than half of those polled planning to buy them, down from 63. 7 percent in 2010;
–With 43.7 percent of respondents saying the economy will force them to spend less in general, 39.9 percent will be looking for store-brand or generic items and 50 percent will be shopping for sales;
–The web will once again be a haven for back-to-school shoppers; 31.7 percent will go online in 2011 (up slightly from 30.8 percent a year ago) and 29.8 percent will use online comparison shopping resources;
–Average spending on clothing ($220.60) and school supplies ($88.99) will slightly decrease this year, while families will spend an average of $104.53 on shoes, a slight increase over last year;
–A majority of those polled (68.4 percent) said they plan to make at least one purchase from a discount store, while clothing stores (48.7 percent), office supply stores (38 percent) and electronics stores (21.7 percent) should also be good for at least one purchase as well.
The results overall tend to mirror similar (and earlier) assessments of the 2011 back-to-school shopping season. While the numbers don’t seem too bad per se, the estimates certainly fall short of what many in the retail and e-commerce industries have to be hoping for as the summer starts to wind down. Only time will tell if actual sales equal, fall short, or exceed the expectations put forth by the NRF and others.
As always, leave us your thoughts and comments!