The start of the new school year always meant new clothes, and whether it’s elementary school or college, that excitement is there. Even in this age of must-have tech gadgets, college students are placing their new wardrobe on top of their shopping list.
The $50-billion/year market of college student spending is closely watched by every industry, and surveys are conducted to monitor spending, with retailers adjusting their marketing strategies accordingly.
“The survey assigns hard numbers to college student shopping habits and changes in those shopping habits, and gives insight into how this diverse group is living its lives,” said Julie Traylor, NACS’ chief of research and head of OnCampus. “The report also provides the data segmented by age, gender, major field of study, class, and residency status.”
College students have always been known as being strapped for cash and the current economic climate is not helping. According to the National Retail Federations 2012 Back-to-College Survey, eight in 10 (83.5 percent) back-to-college shoppers say the economy has affected their spending plans.
Students are not placing as much importance on brand names and latest fashions as they did in high school. The majority of students opt for comfort with hoodies, jeans and sandals as their favorites.
The economy directly affects how much college students are spending and also how and where they are shopping. "College students and their parents, who are likely also spending thousands of dollars on tuition, will be looking for ways to stretch their budgets and find good deals this year," said National Retail Federation President and CEO, Matthew Shay.
With an average budget of $900 per year Back-to-College (BTC) students prefer to spend their money in stores versus online. The brick and mortar comparisons are lead by Target and Walmart because of their one-stop shop convenience with other known retailers like Staples, Best Buy (News - Alert), OfficeMax, Office Depot and Bed Bath & Beyond sharing the remainder.
Online purchases are dominated by Amazon at 53 percent, followed by Target (News - Alert), Walmart and IKEA.
After the purchase of basic essentials, college students spend more than 60 percent on clothing, far ahead of the less than 40 percent spent on all technology gadgets combined. The technology category includes must-haves like cell phones and laptops, and although tablets come in at only 13 percent of the purchases, they’re on the wish list of 18 percent of those surveyed.
Freshmen are spending more on electronics and tech gadgets at more than $260.
Although individually, students are on a strict budget, their spending habits and collective influence on the retail market will continue to be analyzed and targeted by companies trying to get a share of that $50 billion.
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Edited by Braden Becker