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Department, Clothing Stores Expected Winners in Final Back-to-School Shopping Rush

Kathy Grannis (202)783-7971 or grannisk@nrf.com

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Department, Clothing Stores Are Expected Winners
in Final Back-to-School Shopping Rush
-NRF Survey Finds Disney’s Cars, Dora Most Popular Kids’ Characters this Year-

Washington, August 23, 2011 – As the final days of summer tick away for kids around the country, more families plan to visit department stores, clothing stores and websites for last-minute school purchases. According to NRF’s 2011 Back-to-School survey conducted by BIGresearch, the average family has completed 43.0 percent of shopping for K-12 students, similar to last year’s 43.2 percent. College students and their parents have completed 44.3 percent of their shopping, up slightly from last year’s 43.1 percent.

“As school begins in many areas around the country, parents and students are furiously visiting stores and websites to cross the final items off of their back-to-school lists,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Retailers know the final stretch of the back-to-school season is crucial and are continuing to offer exceptional values on everything from clothing to computers.”

BTS update 2011
While discount retailers will remain the top shopping destination for last-minute back-to-school shoppers (56.9%), the number of people who will shop at department stores and specialty clothing stores as school approaches is expected to jump substantially this year. According to the survey, 47.1 percent of last-minute shoppers plan to visit department stores – a ten percent jump from last year’s 42.7 percent. Additionally, 40.8 percent plan to visit specialty clothing stores, a 19 percent increase over last year’s 34.3 percent, and 21.7 percent plan to shop online, up from last year’s 16.0 percent.

For the college crowd, discount stores will also be the top destination (48.2%). The number of people shopping in department stores (39.6%) and clothing stores (27.7%) also rose among that crowd.

Favorite Characters

For the first time this year, NRF asked parents of K-12 students if they had purchased or were planning to purchase character-themed merchandise for back to school. Nearly half of parents (43.4%) said they would purchase at least one character item, with Disney’s CARS and Star Wars taking the top slots for boys and Dora the Explorer and Hello Kitty at the top of the list for girls. (View a full list here.)

“While parents are deciding how much to spend, kids are often making the final decisions on which specific items to buy,” said Pam Goodfellow, Consumer Insights Director, BIGresearch. “Characters like Disney’s CARS and Dora the Explorer, along with many private label brands that appeal to today’s students, are helping retailers set themselves apart as the final days of the back-to-school season approach.”

An NRF survey released in July estimated that combined K-12 and college spending will reach $68.8 billion*, serving as the second biggest consumer spending event for retailers behind the winter holidays. The average family of K-12 students will spend approximately $600 on back to school while college students and their parents will spend an average of $800.

About the Survey

NRF’s 2011 Back-to-School and Back-to-College Consumer Intentions and Actions Surveys were designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to back to school spending and back to college spending. The surveys were conducted for NRF by BIGresearch. The poll of 8,632 consumers was conducted from August 2-9, 2011. The consumer polls have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

BIGresearch® consumer intelligence provides analysis of behavior in areas of products and services, retail, financial services, automotive and media. The BIGresearch Consumer Intentions and Actions® Survey (CIA®) of 8,000+ respondents is conducted monthly and the Simultaneous Media Usage® Survey (SIMM®) of 15,000+ respondents is conducted semi-annually.

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF’s global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. In the U.S., NRF represents an industry that includes more than 3.6 million establishments and which directly and indirectly accounts for 42 million jobs – one in four U.S. jobs. The total U.S. GDP impact of retail is $2.5 trillion annually, and retail is a daily barometer of the health of the nation’s economy. www.nrf.com.


* Extrapolation of U.S. population of adults 18+.