The average family with children in grades K-12 had completed only 45 percent of their shopping as of early August, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. The number is down from a peak of 52 percent at the same time in 2013 and 48 percent last year, and the lowest level since 40 percent in 2012.
Of parents surveyed from August 1 to 9, only 13 percent had completed all their shopping, and 23 percent had not started at all. The results come even though the number of parents who planned to start shopping at least two months before the beginning of school was up this year at 27 percent, compared with 22 percent last year.
NRF has forecast that families will spend $83.6 billion on back-to-school this year, including $29.5 billion on K-12 and $54.1 billion on college.
Among K-12 parents, 79 percent said they still needed to buy basic supplies such as pencils and paper, up from 77 percent at the same time last year, followed by 75 percent who needed to buy apparel, up from 70 percent; 58 percent still needed to buy shoes up, up from 57 percent.
To wrap up their buying, 55 percent planned to head to department stores, 49 percent to discount stores, 39 percent to clothing stores, 35 percent to office supply stores and 33 percent online.
When deciding where to shop, 41 percent said they are influenced by coupons, down from 48 percent last year and the lowest in the survey’s history. But 33 percent said they would leverage in-store promotions and 29 percent said they would be influenced by newspaper advertising inserts. For those who’ve already started shopping, 43 percent of their purchases were influenced by coupons, sales and promotions.
The survey found that 61 percent of school supply purchases were influenced by school requirements, down from 64 percent last year. Similarly, 41 percent of electronics purchases were dictated by what schools required, down from 45 percent.
But even though those numbers were down, school requirements still play a significant role in how families go about their shopping.