Many families still have a lot of back-to-school shopping to do, according to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual research of early back-to-school shopping. The survey, conducted between August 1-9 by Prosper Insights & Analytics, indicated that parents of children grades K-12 had completed only 45 percent, down from 48 percent last year, and the lowest level since 40 percent in 2012.


Forecast of total back to school spending in 2017

$83.6 billion | Total amount NRF estimates will be spent in 2017 on back-to-school clothing and supplies.

$28.5 billion | K-12
$54.1 billion | College



Also in SmallBusiness.com: In 2016, we said, “there ought to be a Small Business Saturday for back to school shoppers.”


Parents of K-12 students are delaying shopping this year

Percentage of back-to-school shopping completed by families with children in grades K-12 by early August.

2017 | 45% | 
2016 | 48% |
2013 | 52% |

2012 | 40% |

“Parents this year have been taking longer than usual to finish buying the clothing and supplies their children need for school,”NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Many kids are already getting on the bus and millions more will be back in class in another week or two, so anybody who hasn’t finished shopping by now is cutting it close. Retailers have some great bargains to offer, but parents better take advantage of them before the school bell rings.”

13% | Parents who had completed all their shopping by August 9
23% | Parents who had not started at all by August 9

K-12 parents’ purchasing patterns (by April 9)

Still needing to buy basic supplies such as pencils and paper

79% | 2017
77% | 2016

Still needing to buy apparel

75% | 2017
70% | 2016

Still needing to buy shoes

58% | 2017
57% | 2016

Where parents are shopping for back to school purchases

55% | Department Stores
49% | Discount stores
39% | Clothing stores (including local, small retailers)
35% | Office supply stores
33% | Online

What influences parents when shopping for back-to-school purchases

41% | Coupons
33% | In-store promotions
29% | Newspaper inserts
61% | School requirements (non-electronics purchases)
41% | School requirements (electronics)


College shoppers are also delaying purchases this year

Percentage of college back to school shopping completed by Aug. 9

45% | 2017
48% | 2016

Early birds vs. procrastinators

12% | College students who had completed all of their shopping by Aug. 9
26% | College students who had not started

Items college students still needed to purchase

61% | School supplies
51% | Clothing
33% | Shoes

Where college consumers will likely complete their purchasing

41% | Discount or department stores
38% | College bookstores
32% | Clothing stores
31% | Online

What influences back-to-college purchases

46% | Promotions
41% | Coupons
30% | In-store promotions
28% | Word of mouth

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