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Back-to-School Shoppers Still Cautious, NRF Says

Consumers expect to be more prudent in their school-related spending.

Consumers looking to stretch their back-to-school budgets this school year will be more deliberate in their spending, with higher numbers than ever going online to compare and buy items.

Yet, despite persistent weakness in the U.S. economy, fewer consumers expect to change their back-to-school spending this year than last. While in 2011, 86.1 percent said the economy would affect the way they budget and shop for school necessities, only 80 percent say the same thing this year, according to the National Retail Federation, reporting the results of a BIGinsights consumer study.

The survey finds that more consumers will comparison shop on the Web this year—31 percent, compared to 29.8 percent in 2011—and 16.8 percent will shop more online, up from 15.3 percent who said the same last year.

Overall, more consumers plan to use coupons than last year (38.7 percent compared to 36.9 percent), while fewer say they will shop for sales more often (49.6 percent vs. 50 percent in 2011).

Fewer shoppers than last year plan to spend less or make do with last year’s items. However, more than last year plan to put off big-ticket school-related purchases—like buying a family computer—and cut back on extracurricular activities.

According to the study, more women than men will use coupons, buy generic brands, comparison shop and shop sales, while more men than women will shop online.

A recent PriceGrabber survey of online shoppers showed significantly more optimism for the back-to-school season.

Read more about the BIGinsight survey on the NRF blog.

About the author

Crista Souza
Crista Souza is founding editor of A journalism graduate of San Jose State University, she spent 13 years as a business and technology reporter in Silicon Valley. Crista has been writing about B2C and C2C ecommerce since 2008. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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