Market Overview

The Back-to-School Shopping Paradox: Parents Save Time but Spend More When They Bring Their Children Along, Citi Retail Services Survey Finds


New nationwide research indicates that parents spend an estimated
$322 per child on back-to-school shopping, but that number increases
when shopping together

Today, Citi Retail Services released the results of its annual
nationwide back-to-school shopping survey to shed light on one of the
most anticipated retail events of the year. The study revealed a
shopping paradox -- while the vast majority of parents (81%) indicate
they value savings over time, 70% of parents believe they are more
efficient shoppers with their children, yet are actually spending more
money than when shopping alone. In fact, the average spend per child for
back-to-school supplies, including clothing, books, classroom supplies,
electronics and more is $322. When parents shop with their children,
they end up spending $97 more on average.

"Parents face a dilemma when back-to-school shopping for their kids,"
says Leslie McNamara, Chief Business Development Officer at Citi Retail
Services. "On the one hand, they bring their children along and shop
more effectively while spending quality time together, yet on the other,
they may end up spending more. This is a new finding and one we'll
continue to explore as we seek to better understand how consumers
balance time spent shopping and value-based decisions."

The survey also uncovered interesting data concerning savings-minded
parents who shop throughout the summer (40%) versus one-stop-shop
parents (60%). The parents who hunt for bargains throughout the
summer—visiting a maximum of 4 stores on average to find the best price
on one item —actually spend an estimated $58 more
than those who get their shopping done all at once.

Other key survey findings include:

In-Store Shopping Provides Extra Savings Opportunities

While online shopping has increased exponentially in recent years, the
vast majority (77%) of parents are still shopping at brick-and-mortar
stores to save money on back-to-school shopping through extra discounts
such as coupons or rewards programs.

In fact, nearly two out of three parents surveyed would rather drive an
hour to pick-up a last-minute back-to-school purchase in-person rather
than pay $25 to have it shipped overnight.

Conversational Commerce Gaining Popularity

While in-store and online shopping are most prevalent, the study showed
that new channels are increasing in popularity amongst young parents.
19% of parents between the ages of 18-29 are adopting voice assistants,
such as Amazon Alexa, to do back-to-school shopping while doing other

All for One

As a means to save time and money, consumers are buying back-to-school
items in bulk. About one-third (32%) of respondents said that they are
purchasing items in this manner. As a result, retailers may consider
packaging popular back-to-school items in easy-to-purchase kits.

Savings Matter, But Parents Still Value Their Time

While most parents will prioritize savings over time, even the most
bargain-conscious shoppers won't spend all day walking the aisles. The
top time-saving measures parents have taken while back-to-school
shopping are:

  • Doing all shopping at one store or website (53%)
  • Ordering items online and picking them up in-store (44%)
  • Shopping for items online while at work (28%)

About Citi Retail Services

Citi Retail Services (CRS) is the leading payments provider to many of
the most notable brands in retail. With a diverse footprint spanning
across sectors, including big box, apparel, electronics, industrial,
powersports and more, CRS is shaping the industry and helping to drive
major transformations across the retail space. Informed by handpicked
data and insights, Citi Retail Services offers partners expert tools and
solutions to build customer loyalty, increase profitability and drive
business growth. There are more than 9,000 dedicated CRS employees
strategically located across the U.S. Citi Retail Services is backed by
the global capital, strategic insights and leadership of Citi (NYSE:C).

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