Parents and College Students Plan to Spend More for Back-to-School Shopping

July 31, 2013

With fall just around the corner, parents and students alike are gearing up for the upcoming school year, which means back-to-school shopping time has arrived. This year, families anticipate spending more on back-to-college items than last year, but still plan to spend wisely.

According to Deloitte's annual "Back-to-College" survey, which polled 450 parents of college students between July 5 and 10, 43 percent of respondents said they expect to spend more on back-to-college supplies this year than last. On average, parents plan to spend $907 on back-to-college items, with 37 percent of respondents expecting to spend at least $1,000. In contrast, parents with K-12 children plan to spend an average of $428 on back-to-school supplies. Parents, however, are not the only ones expected to spend money -- parents reported that they anticipate their college kids will contribute an additional $453 on back-to-college items.

"Families with students in college often have longer shopping lists with bigger ticket items," said Alison Paul, vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and retail & distribution sector leader, in a Deloitte press release.

This year's increased spending is likely the result of situational factors rather than a desire to splurge, according to the press release. For example, consumers stated that they expected to spend more this year because of higher prices and students' need for more expensive items, but consumers still plan to spend carefully, buying only the necessities and taking advantage of sales and promotions. In fact, 73 percent of parents said they plan to do more online shopping this year, not only for the sake of convenience but also to find the best prices and deals. Parents of college students are also twice as likely than parents with K-12 children to use social media for reviews and recommendations (76 percent), promotions (67 percent) and to search for products (61 percent).

According to a Deloitte back-to-college infographic, the top three items college students plan to purchase this season are supplies, clothes and shoes. College students may already own an array of electronic devices such as computers, smart phones, mp3 players and digital cameras. The least popular electronic device among college students seems to be the tablet, as just 18 percent of students own one.

"The combination of smartphones and laptops makes the tablet redundant for students," Brent Schoenbaum, a partner in the retail practice at Deloitte, noted in a MarketWatch press release.

Tech experts also noted that personal computers are the favorite among college students because they make it easier to multitask and write papers when compared to using a tablet. PCs also have bigger screens and better speakers, which may make them more ideal for leisure activities, such as listening to music or streaming videos. Finally, PCs are also more affordable. MarketWatch noted that, according to a Pew Internet Research study released last month, most tablet owners are adults with annual incomes of at least $75,000.

Back-to-school shopping can sometimes be overwhelming for parents so it may be important to plan ahead, especially if you are shopping for more than one kid. According to a InCharge Debt Solutions press release, before you start shopping, set a budget to avoid overspending as well as to enable your children to develop smart shopping habits. Some states also offer tax breaks for back-to-school shopping. The Internet may be a good resource for back-to-school shopping through exclusive deals that may be offered online or through sites offering cash-back incentives.

Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin


"2013 Back-to-College Survey,", July 30, 2013

"Deloitte Survey: Gearing up for Back-to-School, Shoppers More Upbeat but Still Sticking to Necessities,", July 29, 2013

"InCharge Debt Solutions Top 10 Tips to Manage Back-To-School Shopping Expenses,", July 30, 2013

"Making the grade,", July 30, 2013

"PCs outsell tablets in college dorms,", July 31, 2013, Quentin Fottrell

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