Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Back to back-to-school

August 14, 2008

kids.jpgCheck out a new survey on back-to-school shopping.
More than one-third of consumers plan to spend less when they shop for school this year, according to a survey by market research firm NPD Group.

Okay, many consumers may have already started, or even finished, their back-to-school shopping. And several back-to-school surveys came out last month from the likes of the National Retail Federation and consulting firm Deloitte that also showed signs consumers were cutting back.
(Actually, NRF broke its survey into two and showed that college kids were cutting back, but that younger students and their parents were planning to spend more. But that’s another story.)
NPD’s Marshal Cohen said the NPD survey is more current and is taken closer to when consumes will actually shop for school.
“On a good year, 25 percent start (shopping) and none have finished at the end of July,” Cohen said. He also noted that consumers have pushed the back-to-school season further and further back, waiting until the weather cools before buying apparel.
So, in this latest survey, NPD shows 35 percent of those surveyed plan to spend less on back to school and 34 percent plan to spend the same as in 2007.
Most plan to shop at discounters, but that percentage dropped to 81 percent from 84 percent. Office supply retailers continue to show more popularity, with 45 percent of those surveyed planning to shop at the Office Depots and Staples of the world, up from 43 percent in 2007.
Footwear stores fell 5 percentage points to 22 percent of consumers saying they were likely to shop at those outlets, with apparel stores down to 16 percent from 20 percent in 2007.
And that old backpack might just have to make it through another year. Only 33 percent of those surveyed plan to buy new school bags, down from 45 percent a year earlier.
According to Standard & Poor’s, which put out its own back-to-school study on Wednesday, about 75 percent of back to school spending occurs in the four weeks leading up to the first day of school, or during August. But many high school and college students wait until school starts before buying clothes so that they can see what is cool first, S&P said.
Also in the basket:
Wal-Mart profit up 17 percent, says consumers pressured
July CPI rise higher than forecast
Borders larger rival unlikely to make a bid (WSJ, subscription required)

(Photo: Reuters)

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