Study: higher prices and reduced income, the main reasons why parents spend less on back-to-school items this year

Higher prices (75%) and reduced disposable income (51%) are the main reasons why parents plan to spend less on back-to-school products this year, and the spending per child is expected to decrease by 10% compared to 2022, according to Deloitte 2023 back-to-school survey. This behavior is explained as 31% of study participants face a worsen financial situation compared to last year.

According to the study, the percentage of those who say they will spend more this year on back-to-school products has dropped to 32%, from 37% last year, but the reason for the increase in the budgets is also related to the higher prices (75% of those spending more point to inflation).

Under these conditions, spending on clothes and technology products is expected to decrease by 14% and 13%, respectively, while those with classic school supplies could increase by 20% compared to 2022. Overall, according to the estimates highlighted in the study, back-to-school spending will decrease by 9% compared to last year.

However, many parents are willing to spend more on clothing and/or accessories (57%) and tech items (56%) for better quality or to treat their child.

Being concerned to save as much as possible, 49% of shoppers research online before buying in-store, and 55% review return policies before shopping. Thus, shoppers prioritize retailers with competitive pricing, whether in-store or online, but, of those shopping online 59%, are asking for free return.

“The economic context of recent years has been dominated by uncertainty and, thus, has generated prudent spending behavior. As evidenced by the study, consumers focus on essential shopping and look for the best deals from a price perspective. But perception is starting to improve, at least at European level, including in Romania. According to a study published earlier this year by the European Commission, the share of European citizens who think the situation of the EU economy is good has increased since the beginning of the year (by five percentage points to 45%) and the number of pessimists has decreased (by seven percentage points to 44%). Inflation remains a major concern, but less than at the beginning of the year. As a result, retailers need to pay more attention to consumers during this season and try to meet their expectations in order to overcome the current challenges together,” said Raluca Baldea, Tax Partner, Deloitte Romania, and Leader of the Retail and Consumer Goods Industry.

In the current financial context, concern for environmental protection and sustainability is decreasing. If in 2022 half of the study participants claimed to choose environmentally friendly or sustainable products, this year, the percentage dropped to 35%.

Deloitte study, now in its 16th edition, was conducted based on more than 1,200 US parents of school-aged children.

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