Families with children in the K-12 range appear about as anxious to finish their back-to-school shopping as their kids are to tackle their first homework assignments.
According to a survey of 6,758 consumers conducted Aug. 4 to Aug. 11 by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation, just 13.3 percent of households have wrapped up their b-t-s shopping for the year, down more than two points from the 15.7 percent who’d finished the annual task at this time last year.
The percentage of families that have yet to start their pre-school shopping assignments sat at 19.7 percent, down from 23.6 percent a year ago and the lowest mark since the question was included in the survey.
“As expected, families are carefully measuring where, when and how they should spend on fall apparel items, school supplies, electronics and other necessities,” said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer of Washington D.C.-based NRF. “Late-summer promotions and sales-tax holidays around the country are likely contributing to the delay in back-to-school shopping this year, which means the next few weeks could be exceptionally busy for retailers large and small.”
And which retailers are likely to receive the bulk of the buying? Responding to a “check all that apply” question, more than half of respondents — 53.4 percent — expect to wrap up the season at discount stores, 46.8 percent at department stores, 36.6 percent at clothing stores and 12.8 percent at electronics stores.
More than a quarter — 27.2 percent — said they’d finish their shopping online, the same percentage as in 2012 and above the figures for the two subsequent years.
“More retailers than ever are in the back-to-school spectrum, so it won’t be difficult for mom and dad to find what they need wherever they shop, be it their favorite Web site for free shipping offers or their local drug store for last-minute deals on supplies,” said Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst at at Prosper.
As was the case last year, coupons were the largest influence on a person’s decision to shop at a single store, garnering positive responses from 43.4 percent of respondents. In-store promotions were number two, followed by advertising inserts, a reversal of the order in 2014.
Asked to write in the retailer with the best b-t-s commercial this year, Wal-Mart prevailed with 24 percent of the vote, followed by Target with 19.6 percent, Staples with 6.8 percent and Old Navy and J.C. Penney, which drew 2.2 percent each.