NPD Reports Consumers Plan to Indulge in the Back-to-School Shopping Season

Port Washington, NY, July 24, 2012– The NPD Group, Inc., a leading market research company, released the results of its annual back-to-school study of consumers' purchasing intentions for the 2012 season.  In general, consumers intend to spend more this year, but as they did last year, they will start their shopping a little later.

Back-to-School Overall Spend 2012 2011
More 31% 22%
Less 24% 38%
Same 46% 40%

 Source: The NPD Group, Inc.

Back to School Shopping Time Frame 2012 2011
By August 1st 37% 38%
By September 1st 58% 57%

Source: The NPD Group, Inc.

“Retailers should plan to see a rise in sales when the temperature drops,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “The summer heat wave in much of the country is a possible contributor to the delay in back-to-school shopping.” 

Even though consumers plan to spend more this season, the type of retail outlets they intend to shop in has shifted.  As a result, apparel, apparel accessories, footwear, school bags, sports equipment, and calculators will receive more attention. 

Back-to-School Shopping Locations 2012 2011
Department Stores 26% 20%
Footwear Specialty 25% 18%
Online Shopping 16% 16%
Apparel Specialty Retailers 15% 13%
Warehouse Clubs 13% 14%
Sporting Goods Stores 7% 4%
Catalog 3% 5%

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. 

Back-to-School Shopping Category Spend 2012 2011
School Supplies 78% 77%
Apparel 62% 58%
Footwear 55% 45%
School Bags 43% 30%
Electronics 26% 27%
Apparel Accessories 19% 17%
Calculators 11% 8%
Sports Equipment 6% 3%

Source: The NPD Group, Inc.

“There will be waves of sales growth – in the early stages, school supplies and electronics will do well," said Cohen. "And when school is back in session apparel and footwear will show some true promise, driving shoppers to department, sporting goods, and specialty stores." 

The study shows consumers expect value to remain a key factor in their back-to-school shopping decisions.  Back-to-school shoppers aim to listen to students for reasons to purchase an item – illustrating kids’ influence on these seasonal shopping trips. 

Back-to-School Items Reason For Purchase 2012 2011
Value 79% 82%
Required 56% 45%
Child Wanted It 28% 22%
Replacement 26% 30%
Trendy/Fashionable 15% 12%
Influenced by Friends 2% 2%

Source: The NPD Group, Inc.

“Parents will be going back to school this year, too, back to school for shopping, that is,” stated Cohen. “In order to find the value and to learn what the trendy/fashionable articles are that students want, parents and students have some homework to do.”

Methodology: Findings presented here are based on a poll of 2,500 members of The NPD Group’s online consumer panel.  U.S. adults age 18 and older participated in the study, which was fielded between July 2 and July 10, 2012. 


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