Deloitte is predicting a sizeable drop in back-to-school spending, a sharp contrast from the National Retail Federation’s predictions that spending would increase by 5% this year.
The report, titled: 2014 Back-To-School Survey: Rising To The Head Of The Class, concluded that families expected to spend on average $543 on back-to-school items this year. This is a significant drop from 2013, when each family planned to spend $672.
Across the different product categories, school supplies are expected to be the most in demand (96%), followed by clothing (91%) and shoes (85%). Conversely, only 9% of respondents said they planned to purchase computer software or small accessories this year.
Similar to last year’s results, most respondents (85%) said they plan to shop at discount and department stores. However, this number is down slightly from 90% in 2013. A greater number of consumers said they were going to shop more online (38% in 2014 vs. 36% in 2013), as well as in traditional department stores (31% in 2014 vs. 28% in 2013), off-price stores (30% in 2014 vs. 28% in 2013) and warehouse membership clubs (28% in 2014 vs. 26% in 2014).
Shopping Strategies Get Savvier
Most (53%) respondents said they would conduct research online before purchasing products for the upcoming school season. Others plan to employ traditional money-saving tactics, such as waiting for sales (54%), using more coupons (29%) and using loyalty points and rewards (18%).
Of the respondents (18%) who plan to use social media in their back-to-school shopping, 68% said they’d be interested in learning about promotions, while 60% said they’d read reviews and recommendations.
Although social networks are not being used frequently as shopping channels, mobility is definitely rising in popularity. With the majority (84%) of respondents owning smartphones, 57% said they plan to use their devices to download discounts, coupons and sale information. Other popular behaviors include research store information (55%), receive price information (53%) and access a retailer’s web site (53%).
Smartphone users research products on their devices, while tablet users shop from their devices. While 60% of tablet owners said they would use their devices research prices, 59% said they would also purchase products.
Consumers are getting more strategic in their back-to-school shopping practices. As a result, they’re waiting longer to seek out the best deals.
More than half (54%) of respondents said they plan to finish their back-to-school shopping less than a month before the school year starts. More than one fourth (26%) of respondents even said they’d wait until after the school year starts to get the items they need.
Financial Obligations Deter Back-To-School Spending
Overall household spending and day-to-day pressures may have had an impact on spending.
Consumer outlook on the economy is optimistic, with 40% of respondents saying the economy will continue to improve. Yet 44% of respondents said their financial situations, including household assets and liabilities, were the same as they were in 2013.
The top five financial concerns that may impact consumers’ back-to-school spending include:
- Higher food prices (64%);
- Higher energy prices (55%);
- Higher medical bills and/or premiums (44%);
- High personal debt levels (42%); and
- Higher taxes (51%).
Click here to download a complete version of Deloitte’s 2014 Back-To-School Survey.