Research: 69 Percent of Back-to-School Shoppers Plan to Buy Clothes

While early outlooks anticipate back-to-school spending to lag behind 2012, a surprising 88 percent of shoppers surveyed by WSL Strategic Retail say they plan to spend at least the same or more as last year during the 2013 back-to-school season.  The finding comes as part of the firm's How America Shops Back-to-School 2013 trend study, which tracks the stores and categories parents are shopping.

"Back-to-school has always been an important indicator of consumer sentiment and spending," said Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL Strategic Retail. "This year, 60 percent of shoppers tell us that they plan to spend the same as they did in 2012, and 28 percent say they will spend more.  This is encouraging news for retailers who saw strong back-to-school numbers last year."

Although shoppers remain cautious, those who say they will spend more represent a cross section of all income groups – a key indicator of how important this category is to lower- and middle-income shoppers.  In fact, one-third of those busy parents who plan to spend more will even pass on the big sales in stores, saying that they are willing to pay a premium for the convenience of getting all of their back-to-school shopping done online.

"The category to watch this year is healthcare," said Candace Corlett, president of the firm.  "Over half of back-to-school shoppers will buy items such as hand sanitizers, vitamins and first-aid products to keep their children safe from classroom germs, making healthcare the number three category that parents are shopping this back-to-school season."

What they're shopping for:
  • 86 percent -- School Supplies
  • 69 percent -- Clothing & Fashion Accessories
  • 56 percent -- Healthcare items (hand sanitizers, first-aid, vitamins, etc.)
  • 48 percent -- Food & Beverage (lunch supplies, after-school snacks)
  • 44 percent -- Beauty & Personal Care
  • 21 percent -- Electronics (computers, tablets, e-readers, etc.)
Where they're shopping:
  • 76 percent -- Mass Merchandisers such as Target, Walmart and Kmart
  • 40 percent -- Department stores like Macy's, Kohl's, JC Penney, Nordstrom, Saks, etc.
  • 36 percent -- Online sites such as Amazon
  • 34 percent -- Dollar stores including Dollar General, Family Dollar, etc.
  • 32 percent -- Drug stores such as CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, etc.
  • 29 percent -- Warehouse clubs including Costco, Sam's Club, etc.
  • 25 percent -- Malls, including Outlet malls and Strip malls
  • 22 percent -- Specialty clothing stores

The How America Shops Back-to-School 2013 trend study was conducted as a nationwide online survey of 320 back-to-school shoppers ages 18 and over in July 2013.
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