Back-to-school shopping.

Contradicting other back-to-school forecasts, Synchrony Financial’s latest read on the season has consumers expecting to spend the same or slightly more than they did last year.

Contradicting other back-to-school forecasts, Synchrony Financial’s latest read on the season has consumers expecting to spend the same or slightly more than they did last year.

And echoing prior reports on the b-t-s season, the bulk of purchases will involve value-driven shoppers seeking out bargains. Moreover, shoppers will be setting a budget for all of their purchases.

By category, the survey found that apparel and footwear garner the “largest expense for parents and account for approximately one-third of their total back-to-school spend, followed by electronics,” the researchers said in the report. “College students spend primarily on electronics, clothing and dorm-room items.”

Toni White, chief marketing officer at Synchrony, said “although the study found shoppers are confident and optimistic, their focus on value and time spent comparing prices online reinforces the importance for retailers to have integrated strategies that provide relevant offers and the best multichannel experience.”

The survey, which was conducted between July 7 and 14 by RTi Research for Synchrony, polled 2,000 participants including parents and college-aged students.

“Price is an overriding concern for parents, even though most report they plan to spend the same or more this year,” said the authors of the report. “More than half of parents with students in grades K-12 are likely to set a budget for back-to-school expenses. College students are focused on items they need — 83 percent plan to reuse where possible and replenish essentials, and 63 percent will refer to last year’s spending as a guideline.”

The survey also revealed that regardless of category, more than half of the respondents will look for deals online.

Value is the overwhelming driver when deciding where to shop, according to the study. The researchers said that the components of value include “competitive prices, deals and merchandise quality.” Convenient location, a variety of products offered and a flexible return policy were other important factors in the decision-making process as well as overall customer service.

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