Shopping online not high among back-to-school shoppers

For back-to-school shopping this year, more parents are cutting back on non-school expenses so they can buy their kids clothes and school supplies, while spending less on computers and electronics.

That's one nugget of data from a new survey by Bing shopping, part of the new Microsoft search engine, that found that 85% of the people it surveyed are at least less likely to cut back on non-school-related purchases this year.

Forty-five percent said computers and electronics are the least important category they plan on buying from this year while shopping for school items.

Other notable findings from the Bing shopping survey:
  • 71% plan on trading down to focus on value over brand names.
  • 65% cite clothing as the most important category to save money on.
  • 41% are asking their kids to cut back on eating out, while many parents are helping kids model new spending habits by spending less on luxury goods or involving them more in family spending decisions.
"Value is still going to be king for back to school," Anne Taylor Hartzell, who works in internal communications at Bing, told me in a telephone interview.

While most people surveyed plan to spend the same amount of money while shopping for school items by cutting back on non-essentials such as computers and non-school expenses, shopping online for such things isn't a priority.

Maybe it's the shipping time, cost or the fact that kids want to try on clothes in the store before a parent buys them, but 56% said they don't plan on shopping online for back to school this year.

Bing shopping is trying to trying to change that by increasing its cashback program on Aug. 10. That's when it will begin for a limited time during the back-to-school season a chance for customers to as much as double the normal cash back on select items.

The cashback program works like a rebate. By buying purchases from certain retailers at Bing shopping, customers get a percentage of the purchase price back as cash, from 1% to 25%. They get the money back in 60 days through either PayPal, a check or direct deposit. More details are available on its Facebook page.

Shopping online simplifies tasks, leaving more time to enjoy the remaining summer with the kids, Hartzell said.

"Every mouseclick can save you time that you would rather not be in the mall," she said.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at
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