For Immediate Release Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C)

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

July 25, 2018


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

Chicago/New York – 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 percent) indicate they value savings over time, 70 percent 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 percent) versus one-stop-shop parents (60 percent). The parents who hunt for bargains throughout the summer—visiting a maximum of four 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 percent) 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 percent 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 tasks.

All for One

As a means to save time and money, consumers are buying back-to-school items in bulk. About one-third (32 percent) 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 percent)
  • Ordering items online and picking them up in-store (44 percent)
  • Shopping for items online while at work (28 percent)

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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).

Media Contacts
Leslie Ticku, 718-248-1248

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