Back-to-School Spending Seen Growing

Back-to-School Spending Seen Growing

Synchrony Financial’s 2016 Back-to-School Study predicts that back-to-school retail sales will expand between 3.2 percent and 3.7 percent for July through September.

More than 1,850 parents and college students nationwide participated in an annual Back-to-School survey conducted earlier this month on behalf of Synchrony Financial.

The survey found that 40 percent of college students indicated they are extremely confident or very confident in their own financial situation. By contrast, only 29 percent of parents and 16 percent of college students surveyed reported confidence in the overall U.S. economy.

Clothing/shoes and electronics represent the majority of back-to-school spending for most families surveyed, and more than a third expect to spend more in both categories this year. Longer supply lists and more technology needs are among the drivers of increased spending. More than half of parents with students in grades K-12 said they are likely to set a budget, and of those who do, 39 percent are more likely to set a per child budget.

“Price and value continue to influence where shoppers buy for back-to-school,” said Bart Schaller, EVP and chief marketing officer, Synchrony Financial. “We consistently find shoppers are deal-driven and value the additional savings, rewards and benefits credit cards can offer.”

Findings from Synchrony Financial’s 2016 Back-to-School Study include:

Timing and Trends
• Nearly half of parents surveyed have started back-to-school shopping, and the majority of parents (51 percent) and college students (67 percent) plan to stock up after August 1.
• Supply lists have increased for 39 percent of parents with students in grades K-12. More than half indicate they would prefer to pay a fee for the school to provide all their supplies, and 21 percent consider $50 a reasonable amount.
• Parents (65 percent) and college students (61 percent) will make the majority of their back-to-school purchases in store. Nearly 40 percent of college students plan to buy items locally and transport to school.

• Mail and newspapers remain a significant source of advertising for parents, although down slightly from last year. Nearly 30 percent of parents surveyed said they find the best deals with points and savings using their credit cards.
• The search for the best deals begins online for 62 percent of parents (up from 56 percent last year) and 70 percent (vs. 68 percent last year) of college students.
• Shoppers plan to use their phones more this year to find the best back-to-school bargains – 40 percent of parents will use their phone to search for deals, up from 34 percent last year. Half of college students indicate they will use their phone to compare prices.
• Similarly, parents plan to make 35 percent of their purchases online and 8 percent say they will be using their phone. College students expect to make 39 percent of their back-to-school purchases online and 10 percent will be made using their phone. Among back-to-school shoppers surveyed, approximately 40 percent expect to purchase more of their clothing and shoes online this year.