PriceGrabber.com survey reveals consumers' back-to-school shopping habits

LOS ANGELES Consumers may be tightening their wallets this year, but saving on back-to-school purchases is not necessarily a priority.

In a survey conducted by PriceGrabber.com between May 12 and June 1, respondents said they do not plan to save for back-to-school shopping this year but are starting their shopping early and spending the same amount as they did last year. When back-to-school shoppers were asked when they planned to begin saving for purchases this year, 64% of 1,718 online consumers polled said that they are not planning to save, while 19% of consumers started saving before April and 17% started saving between April and July.

"We are not surprised to see this new, optimistic trend of consumer frugality extend to back-to-school shopping," stated Laura Conrad, president of PriceGrabber.com. "Further analysis of the data supports the idea that consumers are trying to absorb back-to-school spending in their monthly budgets by starting their shopping early to distribute their purchases."

When asked what period of time they shop before the new school year begins, 26% of back-to-school shoppers planned to make purchases before July, while 31% planned to begin their shopping in July and 38% planned to start in August.

"The data is clear that consumers are still focused on spending the same amount or less on back-to-school purchases this year, even with the expected lift in the recession," said Barbary Brunner, chief marketing officer at PriceGrabber.com. "However, instead of saving a little bit each month for back-to-school shopping and then making their purchases at once, we are seeing consumers engage in layaway-like behavior by purchasing a few items each month."

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