Parents Choose Cotton for Back-to-School, Survey Finds

Smart parents are doing their homework going into the back-to-school (BTS) season this year, shopping online and choosing durable fabrics like cotton for their children's wardrobes.
Back to school (and back to college) is a $75-billion industry, according to the National Retail Federation.  (NRF). This year, families with school-age children plan to spend an average of $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics to get ready for the school year, up 5 percent from $634.78 last year, according to the NRF. And of those consumers purchasing BTS supplies, 90 percent are planning to purchase clothes, according to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ Survey.
But parents are tough customers, and one noticeable demand this season is for cotton clothing. More than eight out of 10 parents (82 percent) who plan to purchase BTS clothes say they prefer their kids to be dressed in cotton clothing, according to Monitor data.
"Consumers are looking for longevity and durability, and they know they will find it in cotton apparel," says Kim Kitchings, vice president, corporate strategy & program metrics, Cotton Incorporated. "There's still lingering uncertainty about the economy, and when shoppers are being mindful about staying within budget, they want to make purchases that they know will last."
Among those planning to buy clothing for the 2014/2015 school year, 36 percent plan to spend more than they did last year (up significantly from 26 percent in 2013), while 55 percent plan to spend the same amount, according to Monitor data. Although mass (65 percent), chain (54 percent), and specialty (42 percent) stores remain the top channels where shoppers plan to buy their BTS clothes, the percentage of consumers planning to shop online increased significantly, from 22 percent in 2013 to 30 percent in 2014.    
"Online is a growing channel for BTS," says Kitchings. "Parents who may have been hesitant to buy online for fear their children's clothes wouldn't fit may have now found other compelling reasons to shop online, including free shipping, extended sizes, fiber content information, and even easier comparison shopping."
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