Back to School Shopping: Parent-Teen Worlds Collide

A renewed sense of thrift has overtaken back-to-school shoppers, setting the scene for parent-teen conflicts

Despite strengthening job and housing markets and expectations for stronger economic growth the second half, a renewed sense of thrift is gripping back-to-school shoppers, numerous surveys show.

Families with school-age children will spend an average $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, down from $688.62 last year, the National Retail Federation reports. Behind the more frugal approach:

  • A period of thrift led to pent-up demand last year, when spending was higher than normal. That left parents with an array of school supplies that still work and a significantly shorter shopping list this year, NFR says.
  • Sluggish growth believed to be less than 1% in the second quarter kindled fears of another downturn and has triggered household budget cuts—even though the pace of recovery is widely expected to pick up the rest of the year.
  • Concerns about rising medical expenses and the recent tax hikes have left families with less to spend, according to Deloitte’s annual back-to-school survey. Parents who said they would buy only what the family needs jumped to 57% from 52% last year and those who plan to reuse old items jumped to 35% from 20%.

(MORE: Back to School Sales Already? Kids Get Ugly Reminder School Isn’t Too Far Off)

It’s not as though no one is shopping. Total spending on kids K-12 will total $26.7 billion and when you add in college students the number soars to $72.5 billion, according to the NRF. Working Mother says that 41% of moms with jobs will spend more than last year.

continue reading »

More News