Parents Spending More on Back to School, Starting Earlier

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Back-to-school shopping is becoming increasingly expensive, and that appears to be the fault of technology.

The Back-to-School Consumer Pulse Poll by the Rubicon Project was conducted in mid-June of this year, and surveyed 1,000 parents of students in K-12 and college, writes Leila Meyer of Campus Technology. Parents were found to be spending more this year on school supplies than in the past and were starting their shopping earlier. They also found that they needed more advanced and expensive technology just to meet classroom requirements, meaning that many parents will be buying laptops and tablets for their students this summer.

56% of parents are planning on spending more money on school supplies this year than last year, and K-12 parents count on spending an average of $873 per student, while college parents anticipate spending $1,124 per student.

72% of parents plan to buy technology-related items. Only 61% plan to buy apparel and retail items, and 50% plan on buying traditional school supplies. More than half — 52% — of college parents plan to buy their student a laptop for the coming school year, and 46% plan on purchasing a tablet.

Not only is school shopping getting more expensive, but it’s happening nearer to the close of the previous school year. 23% of K-12 parents had already begun school shopping at the time of the survey and planned on spreading out purchases over the course of the summer.

Kids are helping out, but not enough. 75% of parents report that their college student has a paying job at some point during the year, but 72% still plan to fund most or all of the back-to-school purchases. To combat these costs, parents are looking for deals, with 61% saying that sales and promotions were the top determinant of their back-to-school shopping choices.

Chris Sukornyk, Head of Buyer Cloud at Rubicon Project, said:

Back to school is big business and Americans will spend billions of dollars getting their children ready for school in the fall. Parents are spending earlier, spending more and going online in ever greater numbers to research products and to make purchases. Agencies and brands hoping to shape back-to-school shopping plans need to begin reaching out now with customized and engaging advertising that targets both parents and students with the right messages at the right time.

The report measured the importance of online shopping and advertising for parents, finding that it was more central to purchases than television advertising.

Mari Kim Novak, Chief Marketing Officer of the Rubicon Project, said:

One of the important trends our survey identified for advertisers is that back-to-school shopping decisions are increasingly influenced online rather than on TV. Brands with a narrow focus on television advertising are missing a big opportunity to reach consumers online and on their mobile devices, where they are spending more of their time.

The concept of ‘prime time’ is a thing of the past. Parents are now researching products and shopping from the moment they wake up until they power down and go to sleep at night.

The Rubicon Project is a leader in the automation of advertising, writes Business Wire. The full report can be downloaded from their website.

Another survey conducted by the National Retail Federation found similar results, writes Brianna Ahearn of Integrated Solutions for Retailers. They polled 6,400 parents in the same demographic and found that they were both shopping earlier and planning to spend more than last year.