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Bright Spot for Back-to-School: Most Consumers Will Spend Same or More

The study by WSL Strategic Retail reports that 88 percent of consumers plan to spend at least the same or more as last year during the 2013 b-t-s season.

Although early reports indicated back-to-school spending would lag behind 2012, 88 percent of shoppers surveyed by WSL Strategic Retail said they planned to spend at least the same or more as last year during the 2013 b-t-s season.

This story first appeared in the August 9, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“Back-to-school has always been an important indicator of consumer sentiment and spending,” said Wendy Leibmann, chief executive officer of WSL Strategic Retail. “This year, 60 percent of shoppers tell us that they plan to spend the same as they did in 2012, and 28 percent say they will spend more. This is encouraging news for retailers who saw strong back-to-school numbers last year.”

One-third of those parents who plan to spend more said they will pass on the big sales in stores and are willing to pay a premium for the convenience of getting all of their b-t-s shopping done online.

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Among the top categories they’re shopping for are school supplies (86 percent); clothing and fashion accessories (69 percent); health-care items (56 percent); food and beverage (48 percent); beauty and personal care (44 percent), and electronics (21 percent.).

As to where they’re shopping, mass merchandisers (Target, Wal-Mart, Kmart, etc.) topped the list at 76 percent, followed by department stores (Macy’s, Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom, Saks, etc.) at 40 percent; online sites (Amazon, etc.) at 36 percent; dollar stores (Dollar General, Family Dollar, etc.) at 34 percent; drug stores (such as CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid) at 32 percent; warehouse clubs (such as Costco and Sam’s Club) at 29 percent; malls (such as outlet malls and strip malls) at 25 percent, and specialty clothing stores at 22 percent.

The How America Shops Back-to-School 2013 trend study was conducted nationwide online, polling 320 b-t-s shoppers age 18 and over in July.