Deloitte survey: Back to basics for back-to-school

7/20/2009

NEW YORK Fewer consumers expect to reduce their spending on back-to-school items compared with last year, although economic concerns will continue to weigh on their shopping plans, according to a survey by Deloitte.

Among those surveyed, 64% said they plan to spend less on back-to-school items, compared with 71% in 2008. Forty-three percent said they will cut back their spending by more than $100, down from nearly 5-out-of-10 (48%) last year.

"Consumers may be casting a glimmer of hope for retailers, but the survey results indicate that value will top their shopping lists this year," said Stacy Janiak, vice chairman and U.S. Retail leader, Deloitte LLP. "Although retailers may not see as many wallets snapping shut as they did in late 2008, consumers still plan to stretch their dollars, telling us that that their shopping remains constrained. Retailers should focus on delivering the best incentives and in-store experiences to get the most out of the back-to-school season this year."

With 90% of respondents indicating they will do their back-to-school shopping at discount/value department stores, consumers are continuing to watch their wallets closely. Among other places they will shop, 40% said dollar stores, 29% said office supply stores and 28% said off-price stores.

In addition, almost one-third (32%) said they would buy more private label brands, and more than one-quarter (28%) will comparison shop online before buying. Additionally, consumers have a continued interest in the green category.

"In today's tough environment, retailers' principal marketing strategies should include coupons, sales and loyalty programs," said Janiak. "And with more than three-quarters of shoppers expecting to do the bulk of their shopping in August, retailers can implement promotions now that may encourage customers to spend a greater share of the back-to-school budget in one place. Campaigns that are both strategic and creative, such as mobile alerts or coupons, can target a specific customer segment, better engage shoppers and build loyalty."

For more information about Deloitte's retail sector, please visit www.deloitte.com/us/retail.

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