Back-to-School Forecast 2017

AUGUST 2017 | INSIGHTS

Back-to-School Forecast 2017


Synchrony Financial forecasts Back-to-School shopping will increase by 3.7% to 4.1% over last year, mainly driven by confidence in the economy and computer purchases.1

Synchrony Financial forecasts Back-to-School sales will increase between 3.7% and 4.1% over last year as parents continue to feel more confident about their finances. Synchrony considers a variety of macroeconomic factors, such as personal consumption, unemployment statistics, consumer price index and consumer confidence, when generating this forecast.

• Our Back-to-School study2 surveyed more than 1,850 parents of K-12 students, parents of college students and college students themselves in July 2017.

• According to the findings, parents of K-12 students in particular are feeling upbeat and have a positive outlook about the economy and their own financial position.
– 63% of K-12 parents say they are feeling confident about their overall financial condition.
– 75% of these parents say they feel confident about their job.
– 63% of K-12 parents say their household financial situation has improved this year, a jump of 10 points over last year.

• Clothing, shoes, electronics and supplies represent the bulk of the anticipated purchases for all parents this year.
– K-12 parents anticipate spending an average of about $183 on everyday clothes, $117 on computers and electronics, closely followed by shoes, at $112.

– Parents of college students will spend more on computers (average of $205), but less on every other category (e.g., supplies and clothing).

• Parents of K-12 students anticipate spending more on Back-to-School purchases this year than parents of college students. Even though they anticipate spending the most money on clothing ($183 on average), the biggest category of growth is computers (which includes laptops and tablets). Forty five percent of parents anticipate spending more in this category this year.

• Over half (53%) of K-12 parents expect to spend more this year than last year. In 2016, only 40% anticipated they would spend more. This increase is primarily because:
– 45% of these parents expect to spend more on computers
– Almost half (46%) of these parents anticipate increased spending due to an increase in the supplies list from their schools

– 41% of K-12 parents expect to spend more on everyday clothing versus last year

• Online purchases represent more than a third of Back-to-School purchases, with K-12 parents most likely to buy online. While 43% of parents of K-12 are planning to buy online, 38% of college parents/students say this is the case.

• When deciding where to shop, the price/value equation is, once again, the primary driver. Similar to past years, the top drivers of retail selection for parents are retailers who “offer good value for the money” and those who “have the best deals.” More than 86% of those surveyed consider these two elements to be the top drivers of where they shop.

Other points
• Roughly 40% of K-12 parents — and approximately a quarter of college parents and students — will start Back-to-School shopping earlier than last year. Roughly 60% of these K-12 and college parents started by mid-July. But college students themselves will begin shopping appreciably later, with about half of them starting in August or later.

Back-to-School spending decreases as students get older, mainly because less is spent on clothing.
– Over 90% of K-12 parents say they will buy everyday clothing for Back-to-School, and 41% of them expect to spend more on clothing this year. This changes for parents of college kids, as only 17% of them anticipate their spending for clothing will increase.

– Ninety four percent of college students anticipate spending money on supplies (e.g., notebooks), but their spending will only minimally increase from last year, with only 18% of them saying their spending will increase.


For more insights from Synchrony Financial, click here.

1Source is Synchrony Financial Analytics. The 3.7%-4.1% growth forecast for the three-month Back-to-School shopping period of July-September 2017 is based on analysis of macroeconomic variables and trends.

22017 Synchrony Financial Annual Back-to-School Study, conducted June 29-July 6, 2017, by RTi Research, Inc. Prior year data: 2016 Synchrony Financial Annual Back-to-School Study, conducted June 24-July 6, 2016, by RTi Research.

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