US: Shoppers cutting spending in back to school sector

NPD research shows that consumers will be cutting back in all categories.
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US consumers will be cutting back on their spending on back to school items this year, research from NPD has found, however they have no plans to change where they shop.

Discount retailers are still the destination of choice for 81 per cent of respondents in the annual back to school survey carried out by the market research company. Office supply stores are second (45 per cent), followed by department stores (25 per cent) and footwear outlets (22 per cent).

"The most vulnerable channels of distribution are the apparel and footwear stores," said a representative of NPD. "Even the discounters will have to work hard to lure customers in to shop. These retailers should expect to see more and more competition from non traditional rivals like office supply stores."

35 per cent of respondents were planning to spend less than in 2007, while 34 per cent said they would spend the same (down from 39 per cent in 07) and 31 per cent said they would spend more (down from 36 per cent).

School supplies were the most popular items, with 78 per cent saying they would buy them. However, even this is down from 83 per cent in 2007. Next came apparel with 60 per cent (down from 66 per cent), footwear with 48 per cent (down from 55 per cent), electronics with 34 per cent (down from 38 per cent) and school bags with 33 per cent (down from 45 per cent in 2007).

"School bags are the most vulnerable of the big spending categories for back to school; parents seem to think they will be reusing the bag from last year.

"The footwear industry has a way to go to convince parents they need to spend for back to school and apparel is right behind with 24 per cent less consumers expected to spend on footwear this year compared to last and apparel showing ten per cent less spending expected."

The number one reason for an item to be bought was value, followed by the item being required.

"As the back to school season progresses, I think we will see that while parent's early intentions are to cut back, in the end they won't cut back on their kids all that much."

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