Survey Shows Positive Signs for the Economy as Back-to-School Shopping Begins

Filed under: Work Life, In The News, Day Care & Education, Gadgets, Shopping, Fashion

Back to School shopping

Parents doing back-to-school shopping are showing stores the money. Credit: Steven Senne, AP

In what might be a positive sign for the economy, parents in a national survey say they plan to spend more this year on back-to-school clothing and supplies.

Another sign of the times: They plan to shop for bargains through Facebook and Twitter rather than cutting coupons.

The survey, conducted by researchers for Deloitte, a New York-based consulting and financial advisory firm, found that three out of every 10 parents surveyed (or 28 percent) said they would spend more money on back-to-school stuff this year than last year. That's good news for America's retailers.

Back-to-school ranks second only to Christmas as the most lucrative shopping season of the year. In recent years, retailers have been hit hard by the recession.

A total of 58 percent of those surveyed said they will restrict their buying to sale items and bare essentials, but that's down from 90 percent in 2008 and 70 percent in 2009. This year, only 17 percent of those surveyed said they plan to cut back on back-to-school shopping.

"The survey indicates that consumers' recession-induced behaviors are beginning to wane as households seek to replenish certain items and worry less about the economy," Alison Paul, Deloitte's retail sector leader in the United States and vice chairman, says in a press statement.

"Retailers may be encouraged that fewer consumers are planning to pare back this year, although they may find that shoppers continue to be deliberate in their purchases," she adds. "Retailers should be laser-focused on giving shoppers a reason to put back-to-school dollars into their stores."

Back-to-school spending might be increasing because kids' needs are getting more expensive.

Thirty-four percent of parents surveyed said they are spending more because their kids need big-ticket items such as computers. And 26 percent said they need to spend more because schools are spending less.

Parents say they feel responsible for compensating for school budget cuts.

For many parents, that means turning to social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook in search of bargains. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of those surveyed said they would use such online resources to pinpoint sales, promotions and other cost-saving opportunities.

"Consumers are increasingly on the phone, online and on the go," Paul says in the statement. "Retailers' ability to influence purchase decisions beyond in-store interactions is growing significantly. Companies that can directly engage the consumer through mobile applications, text alerts and video content may win an increased share of shoppers' back-to-school budgets."

Deloitte reports that the survey was conducted between July 9 and 11, and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Related: Back-to-School Shopping Tabs Near $500, Even in a Recession

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