Consumer Products

NRF: Parents are delaying back-to-school shopping

US National Retail Federation is seeing some procrastination in back-to-school shopping, but parents should shell out US$83.6 billion when it's all said and done.
August 24, 2017

Recent data from the US National Retail Federation (NRF) shows that parents have been taking longer than usual to buy back-to-school supplies for their kids this year.

According to the NRF’s annual survey, which was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics and fielded 7,248 consumers, the average US family with children in grades K-12 had completed only 45% of their shopping as of early August. At the same time last year, parents had completed 48% of their shopping, and in 2013, 52% of back-to-school shopping was done by early August. In fact, this year’s numbers are the lowest they’ve been since 2012.

According to Prosper Insights & Analytics principal analyst Pam Goodfellow, many parents are delaying back-to-school shopping to take advantage of special promotions. Once shopping is finally done, the NRF expects families to spend US$83.6 billion on back-to-school items this year, including US$29.5 billion on K-12 students.

Among parents of kids in grades K-12, 79% said they still needed to buy basic supplied like pencils and paper (up from 77% last year). Additionally, 75% said they had yet to finish their shopping for back-to-school apparel (up from 70%) and 58% still needed to buy shoes (up from 57%).

For those with shopping still to do, the majority (55%) plan to head to department stores. Parents also reported they would finish their shopping at discount stores (49%), clothing stores (39%), office supply stores (35%) or online (33%).

When deciding where to buy their back-to-school supplies, 41% of parents said they are influenced by coupons. This is down from 48% last year, and the lowest in the survey’s history. Parents also reported that in-store promotions (33%) and newspaper advertising inserts (29%) influenced where they decided to shop. For parents who have already started shopping, 43% said their purchases were influenced by coupons, sales and promotions.

The survey also found that 61% of parents were influenced by school requirements (down from 64% last year) when making purchases. This also applied to electronics (down to 41% from 45% last year).

About The Author
Elizabeth Foster is Kidscreen's Copy Chief & Special Reports Editor. Contact Elizabeth at


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