Marketing to Moms: Back to School Spending More Frugal in 2011

July 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

What does Back to School spending look like in 2011?  It’s changing just like every other facet of our society.  Oh, yes, the thrill of new notebooks and pencils may still exist, but what we buy, when we buy it and why we buy it seems to be changing.  Here are some highlights from three reports just out on Back to School Spending.  While the stats vary, the common denominator on all of them is continued frugality.  (Dare I say that the Great Recovery continues to be not so great for many.)

Marketing to Moms Coalition Back to School Report – Spending Down but School Supplies Up.  Most Moms say they are cutting their Back to School spending by some 7 percent over last year.  Spending for school supplies of children 7-12 is expected to average $409 per student, which include academic supplies, clothing, electronics, sports equipment and school fees.  While moms noted that school fees are down, the expectation for parents to supply non-academic items is growing.  Some 80% of Moms are asked  to provide Kleenex, hand sanitizers, plastic storage bags, disinfecting wipes, paper towels, snacks, soaps, spray cleaners, beverages and even toilet paper.

And here’s one of the reasons Moms are so connected to their smartphones, tablets and laptops:  Almost half (47%) of moms with children ages 7-12, and 67% of moms with teenagers are expected to monitor their child’s grades and attendance online.  One in three children from elementary through high school are assigned online homework, and nearly half of moms of children ages 7-12, and 61% of moms of teenagers, say their child would not be able to complete homework assignments with access to a computer at home.  So, the days of I left my homework at school are pretty much over.

National Retail Federation – Back to School Shopping Closer to Beginning of School  While those ever cute Target Back to School spots have already begun airing, it looks like Moms are managing their budgets with just-in-time shopping, possibly waiting for sales.  Nearly one-third of families will begin shopping just one to two weeks before school starts, up from less than one-quarter last year. And more than 40% of shoppers will begin shopping three weeks to one month before school starts, up from 33% last year. According to NRF, back-to-school and back-to-college spending is the second biggest sales season behind holidays.  Spending per family with children in grades K-12 will average $603.63, down slightly from last year’s average of $606.40. Back-to-college spending will average $808.71, down from $835.73 last year.

Here’s how Moms are saving money.  More say they will buy store-brand or generic items, comparison shop, shop for sales and use coupons. Last year many families replenished and replaced worn-out items that had been in use throughout the recession, meaning that spending in categories like clothing and school supplies will decrease slightly this year, the NRF found. Nearly 30% of those surveyed said they would be making do with last year’s school items.

NPD Back to School Study – Parents Spending the Same but Shopping Later  NPD points out that consumers will be shopping later, looking for value and searching out lower priced items.  Here are some of the details:




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