NPD: B-T-S Spending Continues to Slow

Consumers will continue to slow their spending for back-to-school; however, the decreases will not be as big as those seen in 2008, said The NPD Group Inc.

In a survey in July, consumers told the Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research firm that they are not in a hurry to shop. As of July 2009, there was a 5 percent drop in the number of consumers who reported they either “haven’t started” or “don’t plan to shop” for b-t-s.

“While this 5 percent drop is not a huge drop, it’s enough of a shift to show us that there is no real rush by consumers to shop, even with the deep discounts being offered early in the season,” Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of NPD, said in a statement.

According to the report, 6 percent of those polled said they had started to shop; 17 percent had not yet begun, and 77 percent noted they will not shop at all.

In addition, 44 percent of consumers said they plan to spend less than last year. Thirty-two percent claimed they would spend the same, and 223 percent plan to spend more.

This year, there has also been a shift away from footwear and apparel purchases, down 9 and 8 points, respectively, from last year.

Where will consumers be doing their shopping? According to NPD, 20 percent said they will shop department stores, a 4 percent decline from last year, with office-supply stores coming in at No. 1, with 82 percent.

In a separate survey conducted by Citi Investment Research, the b-t-s spending outlook was considered to be challenging, with the report projecting the first decline in spending since 1995. But while footwear overall remains hard hit, Foot Locker Inc. was projected to be the strongest performer in the sporting-goods segment for b-t-s.

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