Deloitte: Back-to-school spending down

New York -- Parents and their children in grades K-12 will spend a combined $543 on back-to-school items, and double that, at $1,223, on college spending. According to new survey data from Deloitte, parents alone expect to spend 13% less than in 2013.

More than two-thirds of respondents (68%) shopping for children in grades K-12 indicate their back-to-school purchases will be driven by the school's recommended product list, rather than their child's requests. More than one-quarter (26%) of parents expect to complete their shopping after the start of the school year.

In terms of where consumers plan to shop, "online sites" moved up to the number two shopping destination, tied with "office supply/technology stores" and behind "discount/value department stores" for the first time in the survey's history. The number of shoppers who prefer to purchase from retailers offering the option to buy online and pick up in the store increased to 40% from 33% last year. Nearly six-in-10 (57%) say they plan to conduct research online before buying in the physical store.

Nearly six-in-10 (55%) of respondents in the Back-to-School survey say they are more concerned about the protection of their personal data when shopping online than one year ago. Those worries extend to the physical store, where more than half (51%) of respondents said they are concerned about the protection of their personal data. However, 44% acknowledged that they are more likely to shop at a retailer who provides education surrounding the security of their personal data.

While nearly one-in-five (18%) parents of children in grades K-12 plan to visit social media sites, on par with last year, the percentage more than doubles in college households. Two-in-five, or 44%, of respondents said they or their children plan to use social media sites to assist in their back-to-college shopping.   

However, this year reveals a shift in the value that households with college-bound students place on social sources, with declining emphasis on simply looking for deals. While the number of shoppers checking social media channels for promotions dipped 12 percentage points to 55% compared with 2013, the number who plan to visit retailers' pages (46%) jumped 12 percentage points, and those posting comments and reviews (37%) climbed 13 percentage points from 2013.

Among the electronics that college students own, the survey revealed that smartphone ownership overtook personal computer (desktop and laptop) ownership in 2014. Nine-in-10 (89%) college students own smart phones, compared with 84% who own a desktop or laptop. Additionally, the percentage of college students who own tablets has grown to 32% from 18% last year.


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