2/3's of Millennials Will Buy BTS/​BTC Supplies Online

After Splurging in 2014, Families Trim Back-​to-​School Spending for 2015, According to NRF Survey. Average spending on back to school has grown 42% in the past 10 years. After spending more on school supplies and electronics in 2014, parents this year will head into the back-​to-​school season evaluating what their children really need before spending on new items.

According to NRF‰Ûªs Back-​to-​School Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family with children in grades K‑12 plans to spend $630.36 on electronics, apparel and other school needs, down from $669.28 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $24.9 billion. Additionally, indicating the continued growth in the back-​to-​school arena, families on average have spent 42% more on back to school throughout the past 10 years.

Total spending for K‑12 and college is expected to reach $68 billion.

Regardless of the slight decrease, survey results point to a more confident consumer when it comes to spending and the impact of the economy. The survey found 76.4% of families with school-​age children say they will change their spending because of the economy, the lowest in the 7 years NRF has been tracking it, and down from 81.1% last year.

‰ÛÏAs seen over the last 13 years, spending on ‰Û÷back to school‰Ûª has consistently fluctuated based on children‰Ûªs needs each year, and it‰Ûªs unlikely most families would need to restock and replenish apparel, electronics and supplies every year,‰Û said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. ‰ÛÏParents this summer will inventory their children‰Ûªs school supplies and decide what is needed and what can be reused, which just makes good budgeting sense for families with growing children.

‰ÛÏHeading into the second half of the year, we are optimistic that economic growth and consumer spending will improve after a shaky first half of the year,‰Û continued Shay.

As Economy Improves, Impact on Spending Lessens

Solid growth in job creation and consumer confidence have greatly contributed to the economic recovery, which could be positively impacting how families shop for school items this year. The survey found 40.6% of those who say the economy is impacting their spending plans will look for sales more often, down from the 46.2% last year and the lowest since NRF began tracking this in 2009. Additionally, 29.8% will buy more generic or store brand products, down from 34% last year and another survey low.

For those who have to restock what their children need for school, 92.7% will purchase new apparel, spending an average of $217.82, though most (94.1%) will head out for new school supplies, spending an average of $97.74; families will also spend $117.56 on new shoes.

In 2014, 58.3% of parents said they would buy electronics for their school-​age children, and planned to spend an average of $212.35 ‰ÛÓ one of the highest amounts seen in the survey‰Ûªs history. Having less of a need for electronics this year, however, families said they would decrease their spending on gadgets for their children and will spend an average of $197.24.

Early Birds Change Course; Omnichannel Offerings Desired by Shoppers

More families with children in grades K‑12 are opting to wait before rushing out to shop. According to the survey, 19.6% will shop at least two months before school, down from 22.5% last year. Starting a little later this year, two in five (42.8%) will shop at least three weeks to one month before school, down slightly from 44.5% last year. More families (30.3%) will shop one to two weeks before school, up from 25.4% last year.

When asked why they begin shopping for back to school at least two months out, 64.9% said they shop early to spread out their budgets, and half (51.1%) do so to avoid crowds associated with school shopping. Other popular reasons include not wanting to miss out on popular merchandise (21.5%) and prices and promotions being too good to pass up (45.3%).

Planning to shop around for their school merchandise, families will head to their local department (56.4%), discount (62.2%), clothing (53.5%), electronics (22.4%) and office supply stores (35.9%). And slightly more than one-​third (35.6%) of those looking for school items will shop online.

For the first time, NRF asked about shoppers‰Ûª intentions to use retailers‰Ûª omnichannel offerings; of those planning to shop online, nearly half (48.4%) say they will take advantage of retailers‰Ûª buy online, pick up in store or ship to store options, and 17.3% will look for expedited shipping offers. Nine in 10 (92.1%) will take advantage of retailers‰Ûª free shipping offers.

‰ÛÏSavvy and budget-​conscious parents today have plenty of experience when it comes to looking around for great deals and value-​add promotions, and it seems mom and dad will use that to their advantage this summer to take advantage of retailers‰Ûª omnichannel services,‰Û said Prosper‰Ûªs Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow. ‰ÛÏTo ease hectic schedules and long shopping lists, it‰Ûªs likely that we‰Ûªll continue to see consumers try out and regularly use services like free shipping, reserve online and even same-​day delivery ‰ÛÓ options busy parents have been waiting for.‰Û

Broken out by age, Millennials are much more likely to use these channels: Two-​thirds of 18–24- and 25–34-year-olds will use a buy online, pick up in store or ship to store option (65.7% and 65% respectively), and 15.4% of 25–34-year-olds will use a reserve online option, much higher than the 9.1% of average adults who plan to do so. Additionally, 23% of 18–24-year-olds will use same-​day delivery, significantly more than the 10.2% of average adults.

Three-​quarters Say Half of What they Buy for School is Influenced by Children

Fashion-​forward teens and tweens know just how to get mom and dad‰Ûªs attention when it comes to new school gear to make their friends stop and stare. According to the survey, 86.4% of school shoppers say their children will influence one-​quarter or more of their back-​to-​school purchases. And for the smaller purchases, children plan to chip in some of their own money; teens will dole out $33.27, and pre-​teens will spend an average $17.57.

Like Their Younger Counterparts, College Shoppers Spending Less in 2015

Trendy Millennials Drive Dorm Furnishing Spending Up 30% in 2015

As seen in NRF‰Ûªs Back-​to-​School Survey, college shoppers and their families will also spend slightly less this year after investing in electronics and supplies in 2014. According to NRF‰Ûªs 2015 Back-​to-​College Spending Survey, families with children in college and college students will spend an average of $899.18, down slightly from $916.48 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $43.1 billion.

Combined spending for school and college will reach $68 billion.

‰ÛÏAs we see with back-​to-​school spending, there are also seasonal shifts in the college arena as well, and it‰Ûªs important to remember that spending on school and college is not indicative of future spending trends, especially the holiday season,‰Û said Shay. ‰ÛÏThat said, we‰Ûªre still seeing a very confident college shopper. We fully expect families to take advantage of retailers‰Ûª unique promotions on home furnishing items, apparel and even electronics, while still reusing what they can in good frugal fashion.‰Û

After spending significantly more on electronics last year, the average person shopping for electronics will spend $207.27, down from $243.79. Families with college students and students themselves will spend $136.95 on apparel, $117.98 on food items to stock their dorms and apartments, $66.70 on school supplies, $72.79 on shoes and $78.02 on personal care items.

Trendy Millennials have changed how they view the dÌ©cor needs for their traditionally less-​than-​appealing dorm rooms, and this year spending on matching bed sets, curtains, bath linens and other home goods will top any previous year. According to the survey, half (51.3%) of college shoppers will purchase dorm or apartment furnishings and will spend an average $126.30, up 30% from $96.70 last year and the most since NRF began tracking it in 2007.

Mirroring the growth in spending on dorm furnishings, more college students are planning to live in a dorm room or college housing. According to the survey, 31.3% will live in a dorm or college housing, up from 23.9% last year. Additionally, 21% will live in off-​campus housing and 41.5% will live at home, down from 46.8% last year.

When it comes to where people will shop, nearly half (48.3%) will head to a discount store, while another 44.9% will shop at a department store and 31.3% will shop at an office supply store. Nearly four in 10 (39.3%) will shop online.

NRF also asked its college survey respondents about their plans to take advantage of retailers‰Ûª omnichannel services. According to the survey, nine in 10 college shoppers (90.2%) will use free shipping offers and 46.9% will use buy online, pick up in store or ship to store services. Another 15.5% will take advantage of expedited shipping offers for those last-​minute online purchases. While just 7.4% of college shoppers plan to use same-​day delivery, 18.5% of 25–34‰ÛÒyear-olds ‰ÛÓ many likely students themselves ‰ÛÓ plan to use the convenient service.

The survey found more college shoppers will wait to begin tackling their lists this summer, similar to back-​to-​school shoppers: 23.6% will start at least two months before school starts, down from 28.2% last year, and 37.4% will shop three weeks to one month before school, up from 33.4% last year. Nearly one-​quarter (23.7%) will start one to two weeks before school, similar to last year (25.6%).

Of those who say they will start at least two months out, nearly two-​thirds (65.8%) do so to spread out their budgets, and half (49.3%) do so because prices and promotions are too good to pass up; 27.2% say they don‰Ûªt want to miss out on desired items and 34.9% say they want to avoid the stress of last-​minute shopping.

According to AudienceSCAN results, back-​to-​school shoppers are 23% less likely than average shoppers to go past the first page of search results, so remind your advertisers that their SEO is important in reaching this audience. To capture digital BTS and BTC shoppers, you should know that 48% of them use Android phones. They are 75% more likely than average to have been active on Pinterest in the past 30 days. 54% have used the Internet to find coupons or discount codes in the past 30 days as well. These savvy savers are couponing to the max: 22% have uploaded a grocery or shopping receipt for cash back on a mobile app (like Checkout 51 or SavingStar) in the past 6 months!

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.