Back-to-School Spending Trends

In preparation for the new academic year, parents will dig deeper into their wallets for clothes and supplies than they did last year, according to a new JLL survey.
Image via Pixabay
Image via Pixabay

A strong pattern in elevated retail spending continues. Just as shoppers made plans to shell out more funds in stores during the 2018 holiday season than the previous year, parents have set their sights on spending more on back-to-school shopping in 2019 than they did in 2018, according to JLL’s new 2019 Shopper Survey.

The company queried 1,000 parents of school-age children—ranging from elementary school kids to college-age students—to get a read on anticipated buying trends for the new academic year. This season, the number of high spenders, those who are budgeting more than $500, increased to 19.3 percent from 16.7 percent in 2018. And while the bulk of shoppers still expect to spend $250 or less, the group decreased in size from 61.4 percent in 2018 to 54.9 percent in 2018. The category that recorded the greatest increase is the group planning to spend between $251 and $500, which jumped from 21.9 percent to 25.8 percent, year-over-year.

Although more parents will spend more money on back-to-school clothing and supplies this year, low prices remain the top priority, with 34.1 percent of respondents ranking it as most important. A wide selection/one-stop shopping was the second most important factor, accounting for 16.7 percent of survey participants’ vote. Discount stores Walmart and Target will continue to capture the dollars of the vast majority of shoppers, as 71.3 percent of respondents will patronize the retail giants, a slight jump over last year’s 71 percent. Additionally, with a bigger budget in mind and a focus on low prices, department stores—while still trailing discount stores and online shopping—will increase in popularity due to their affordable prices, with 31.6 percent of shoppers planning a visit in 2019, compared to 29.3 percent in 2018.

Kids speak, parents listen

Image via Freepik
Image via Freepik

Those parents who plan to spend more funds on goods this back-to-school season will also spend more time shopping, per the JLL report. Approximately 52.9 percent of parents with a budget of $250-$750 will visit three to five stores and those anticipating spending in excess of $750 will visit six or more stores. The biggest spenders will go from store to store to store and then some, not to find a deal but to find exactly what their kids desire.

As for giving the kids what they want, 67.8 percent of students will have some input in which items parents buy and/or the stores they buy them from. And college-age kids will get more say in decision-making than elementary school kids—but not by a shocking amount. Almost 81 percent of respondents will give their college students a say and 70.6 percent of parents with children in elementary school will take their little ones’ input into consideration.

The survey also concluded that there are different store preferences for different grade levels. Parents of elementary school children prefer Walmart and on the other end of the spectrum, parents of college-age kids favored Target. For all grades, including middle school and high school, listed Walmart, Target, Amazon and Kohl’s are among parents’ top-five preferred retailers.