RetailMeNot Shoppers Trend Reports

Volume 1, Edition 12

Back-to-School Shopping Continues to Make the Grade as More Consumers Turn to RetailMeNot to Save 

  • Merchants Selling Books, School Supplies and Apparel and Shoes See the Biggest Surge in Coupon Clicks during Back-to-School vs. Non-Peak Periods of Shopping
  • Most Parents (59%) Report That They Finish Their Back-to-School Shopping Before Summer Ends
  • More Than Half of Parents (52%) Report That They Tend to Exceed Their Back-to-School Budgets  

Austin, TX, August 31, 2012 – (, the largest online coupon site in the United States, reported today on the website’s recent retail activity during the back-to-school shopping season. Based on significant increases in coupon clicks for a number of the site’s top back-to-school stores, retailers selling books, school supplies and apparel were among some of the top categories where consumers sought deals.

 “We’re motivated everyday by the knowledge that we help a growing number of consumers save money with coupons and deals available at RetailMeNot,” said Cotter Cunningham, CEO and founder of WhaleShark Media, Inc., operator of “This year, we helped more consumers than ever save on their back-to-school purchases. We also connected thousands of online and offline retailers to the millions of customers who visited RetailMeNot seeking a great deal on the things they wanted to buy for the school year.”

As a part of the report, RetailMeNot researched its site activity and published a review of the most active retail categories, seeing increases in coupon click activity during back-to-school vs. non-peak periods of shopping. Based on a selection of top back-to-school merchants, RetailMeNot saw a surge in average daily coupon clicks for several select retail categories during the back-to-school period (July 1, 2012, through August 20, 2012) vs. the prior three-month period (April 1, 2012, through June 30, 2012). The average daily coupon click increases for key back-to-school categories on RetailMeNot were1:

·          Books: More than 130%

·          Back-to-School Supplies: More than 40%

 ·        Apparel and Shoes: More than 30%

·          Department Stores/Multi-Category Merchants: Nearly 25%

·          Consumer Electronics: More than 20%

·           Home Decor (Dorm Room Essentials): More than 19%

 RetailMeNot–Ipsos Public Affairs Survey 

 Most parents (59%) say they usually finish their back-to-school shopping by the end of summer,  according to a new poll of more than 1,000 parents conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of 

·            Almost half of all parents (47%) say they will finish the bulk of their back-to-school shopping in August;  8%  say they are usually done in July; 3% in June; and 2% before the previous school year even ends. 

·            However, nearly three in ten parents (28%) report that they usually finish the bulk of their back-to-school  shopping at some point in September.

·            Parents in the Northeast are more likely to say that they are done with the bulk of their shopping  sometime  in September (45%) than are those from the West (28%), Midwest (26%), or South (22%).

       Many Still Have Some Back-to-School Shopping to Do After School Starts

·            Although the majority of parents say that they begin their back-to-school shopping over the summer,  when  asked how far along they are once school actually starts, fewer than four in ten (37%) say that they  are  done with their shopping by the start of school. 

o   About three in ten (28%) parents say that they usually have a few things still left to buy for their children but that they are mostly done

o   Nearly one in ten (9%) say they still have several key items they need to purchase

o   4% say they are nowhere near done and are completely behind in their back-to-school shopping

·            Additionally, about one in ten (11%) say that they like to shop after the start of the school year to see what   their children’s actual needs are.  

 Over Half of Parents Exceed Their Back-to-School Budgets, and Most Prefer to Shop In-Store

·           Over half of all parents (52%) say that they often spend more on back-to-school purchases than what    they budgeted

·           One-third (33%) say that they do not always tell their spouses how much they spend on back-to-school  items for the kids. 

·            Additionally, while over eight in ten parents prefer to shop for back-to-school items in-store (83%), just    fewer than one in ten prefer to do so online (8%)

       Buying Brand-Name vs. Generic Brands for Back-to-School Items  

·           Nearly three in ten parents (29%) believe that buying brand-name back-to-school items (e.g., clothes,  consumer electronics, shoes, etc.) is a waste of money.

o   More than one in five believe that buying brand-name items enhances their child’s self-esteem (21%); a similar proportion believe it shows that they care about their children looking good among their peers (18%). 

o   18% of respondents believe that buying brand names is something they routinely do because they can afford it. 

o   On the other hand, 13% say that they do not buy their kids brand-name school items. One in five do not believe any of these statements. 

·            Although there is a range of opinions regarding brand-name back-to-school items, a majority of parents    (62%) say that their kids are not concerned with brand-name clothing and accessories vs. generic  brands, including three in ten (30%) who say that their kids are not at all concerned. At the same time,  however, over one in four (27%) say that their kids are somewhat concerned, and just over one in ten  (11%) say that their kids are very concerned about this issue.

·           Nearly two-thirds (65%) of moms say that their kids are not concerned with brand-name items, compared  with fewer than six in ten (58%) dads.

·            Dads are more likely to say that their kids are very or somewhat concerned with brand-name items than  are moms (42% vs. 35%), and dads are also more likely to say that they believe they buy brand-name  back-to-school items as a matter of routine because they can afford it (22% vs. 14%).

 Moms Tend to Do Most of the Back-to-School Shopping

·            Over three-quarters (76%) of parents say that moms typically do most of the back-to-school shopping in     their households, with considerably fewer (15%) saying that it is the dad. 

o   Fewer still say that it is the grandparents (4%), parental guardian (2%), extended family members (1%), or that they let the kids shop by themselves (3%).

·            Nine in ten women (90%) say that moms typically do most of the shopping, compared with fewer than six   in ten men that say that dads typically do most of the shopping (57%).  

·            On the other hand, while 30% of men say this task is typically done by the dad, only a small fraction of women (3%) say so. 


These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted August 16–22, 2012. For the survey, a national sample of 1,010 adults aged 18 and older with a child under the age of 18 from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel were interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of 1,010 and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.  

1. Fifty of the top back-to-school merchants on were sorted into the following categories: apparel and shoes; books; consumer electronics; school supplies; department stores/multi-category; and home decor (defined as dorm room and bedding). Based on these categories, RetailMeNot reviewed average daily coupon clicks for merchants during the back-to-school period (July 1, 2012, through August 20, 2012) and compared that data versus the prior three-month period (April 1, 2012, through June 30, 2012).

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