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Back-to-School Promotions Draw Shoppers [AUDIO]

Are you finished with your back-to-school shopping? If you answered yes, you’re not alone.

Tim Boyle, Getty Images

Back-to-school shopping began earlier than ever this year. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2013 Back-to-School and Back-to-College surveys, the average family with school-age children in grades K through 12 has already completed more than half, or 52.1 percent of its shopping, up from 40.1 percent the same time last year. That’s also the highest percent in the survey’s history.

As for college families, they have completed nearly half of their shopping as well. School and college spending is expected to reach $72.5 billion.

“Given the historic level of early-bird shoppers we’ve seen this year, it is evident that many families still consider price and value when looking for their back-to-school and college needs,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Shopping early and often has become a sign of the times as budget-conscious consumers aim to ease the brunt of large spending events. In the weeks ahead, last minute shoppers can expect promotions to continue through Labor Day as retailers try to make room for fresh fall merchandise.”

“It’s very clear that these promotions and deals that we’ve seen so far have really resonated with budget-conscious shoppers,” said Kathy Grannis, spokesperson with the National Retail Federation.

“Coupons and promotions are still a very important part of a consumer’s shopping experience and much of that is because of the economy. As families look to cut corners, there’s no question that researching products, looking for those special deals and signing up for email lists to get those unique offerings are still top of mind.”

Back-to-school items began flying off the shelves this year in the middle of the summer. In fact, the survey found that 16.3 percent of families with children in grades K through 12 have already completed their shopping, a jump from the 7.8 percent last year. Fewer back-to-school shoppers say they haven’t started their shopping yet.

Meanwhile, seven in 10 Americans say that the economy is still impacting their school and college spending plans, so sales and coupons are growing in popularity. Of those who have already started shopping, four in 10 say sales, coupons and promotions influenced at least half of their purchases.

As for back-to-college shopping, two in 10 have already completed their shopping, which is an increase from 16.4 percent last year, while 28.8 percent admit they have not started their shopping yet. Four in 10 college shoppers will use debit cards most often while one-quarter will use cash.

One third of back-to-college shoppers admit that at least half of their purchases were influenced by special offers, promotions and coupons.

“The importance of sticking to a budget is all too familiar for families today, especially when it comes to big spending events such as back-to-school and back-to-college,” said Prosper Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “Savvy shoppers are learning that the method of payment is just as significant as spreading out spending when trying to stay within their means.”

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