Back-to-School Buying Relies on Students

Aug 20, 2002

Merchants might have to rely on the shopping power of young people — the group
that appears to be the least affected by the recession — for back-to-school
buying, reports the Minneapolis – St. Paul Star Tribune. Nervous about
the stability of their paychecks and stock investments, parents are likely to
be far more cautious spenders than their children.

Among a plethora of national back-to-school studies, America’s Research Group, a Charleston, S.C.-based firm that studies consumer behavior, found that the 800 adults polled recently planned to spend an average of $302 or 10 percent less than a year ago. Nearly 40 percent cited fears about the economy or losing their jobs as the reason for lower spending, more than double the number who answered likewise last year.

While many students flock to mall specialty stores to get ready for school, their parents are choosing more value-oriented retailers. About half of the adults surveyed by America’s Research Group say they would shop at Wal-Mart for much of their families’ back-to-school clothing. And about 30 percent will go to moderate-priced chains such as Old Navy, Sears and J.C. Penney. In contrast, 14 percent of the national poll picked Minneapolis-based Target stores.

Moderator Comment: Who has the biggest influence on
back-school-expenditures, kids or parents?

You wouldn’t know that back-to-school expenditures were
being cut back based on our recent weekend trip to Target, Gap and other stores
in our area. Even kids not going off to college seemed to be hot for the Todd
Oldham items at Target. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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