California Shopping

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Back to School Shopping in California

In you haven't already heard, back-to-school and back-to-college shopping have been buzzing in the news. From AdAge to CNBC, the coverage has started for what is the second-biggest consumer spending season of the year other than the winter holidays. And today, NRF released its 2013 Back-to-School Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, showing combined back-to-school and back-to-college spending is expected to reach $72.5 billion.

But there are always trends hidden within the data. We've taken care of the heavy lifting to uncover what's really impacting spending for parents with children in grades K-12 and college. Take a look at our infographic explaining this year's top trends. You can also listen to NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay and Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz discuss NRF's Back-to-School Spending Survey with the media here.

On The Heels Of Historically High Back-To-School Season, 2013 Spending Expectations Decrease

-NRF/Prosper survey finds families shopping earlier, looking online for deals-

A combination of pent-up demand and a growing population of school children put 2012 back-to-school spending in the history books, leaving parents in 2013 with an array of school supplies that still work, and a significantly shorter shopping list. Families with school-age children will spend an average $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, down from $688.62 last year. Total spending on back-to-school is expected to reach $26.7 billion.

Total back-to-school and back-to-college spending combined will reach $72.5 billion.

"The good news is that consumers are spending, but they are doing so with cost and practicality in mind. Having splurged on their growing children's needs last year, parents will ask their kids to reuse what they can for the upcoming school season." said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "As they continue to grapple with the impact of increased payroll taxes, Americans will look to cut corners where they can, but will buy what their kids need. It's important to note, however, that spending levels are still well above where they were a few years ago."

The biggest portion of back-to-school shoppers' budgets will go toward new apparel and accessories: 95.3 percent of those with school-age children will spend an average of $230.85 on fall sweaters, denim and other chic pieces of attire. Additionally, families will spend on shoes ($114.39) and school supplies ($90.49).

Fewer families with children in grades K-12 will purchase electronics (55.7%), and those that are going to invest in a new tablet or smartphone are going to spend slightly less than last year ($199.05 vs. $217.88 in 2012).

Eight in 10 back-to-school shoppers will adjust spending plans because of economy

It's clear the economy is still weighing heavy on the average family's mind; the survey this year found eight in 10 school shoppers (80.5%) say economic conditions will change their spending in some way. Turning to the Internet to save money, 36.6 percent say they will do more comparative shopping online and 18.5 percent will shop online more often.

Back-to-school shoppers already out and about

According to the survey, families are already out and about shopping for school items: 23.9 percent of families with children in grades K-12 say they will begin shopping at least two months before school (i.e. right now), up from 22.3 percent last year and the highest percentage seen in the survey's 11-year history. Half (49%) will shop three weeks to one month before school, 21.8 percent will shop one to two weeks before school, 2.8 percent will shop the week school starts, and 2.6 percent will shop after the start of the season.

There's a shift in shopping patterns during big spending 'events', where consumers typically head out early to take advantage of fresh inventory options and initial markdowns, then see a lull only to rev back up again when final sales appear. Hoping to spread out their budgets but still reap the benefits of getting the products their children want, parents this back-to-school season will comparison shop online and around town at their child's favorite stores, potentially even more than once, as they seek to find bargains and products that offer the best value.

Department stores still popular; teens heavily influence parents purchasing decisions

Though most school shoppers (67.1%) will visit their favorite discount store for school items as they did last year, department stores will be popular with teens and their parents this season as well: 61.7 percent will shop at department stores, up from 59.9 percent last year and the highest in the survey's history. Additionally, 51.5 percent will shop at a clothing store, 40.6 percent will shop at an office supply store, 37.3 percent will shop online and 25.9 percent will shop at an electronics store. One in five will hit their local drug store (19.6%) and 13.7 percent will look for goods at thrift/resale stores.

Stylish teens and tweens know what they need to impress their friends when it comes to new school gear, and this year parents need to be up for the challenge. According to the survey, 59.6 percent of parents say their children influence at least half of their back-to-school purchases. And for those extra small purchases, children plan to chip in some of their own money as well. Teens will dole out $30.13 of their own money, and pre-teens will spend an average $18.45 both slightly down from last year.

NRF 2013 Back-to-School Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics

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