Families are waiting for their state's sales tax holiday and retail promotions, as most have only completed 50.4 percent of their back-to-school shopping.
According to the National Retail Federation's BTS survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the number is on par with last year's BTS shopping season, when families had 49.9 percent of their shopping completed at the same time in 2014.
"As expected, families are carefully measuring where, when and how they should spend on fall apparel items, school supplies, electronics and other necessities," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "Late summer promotions and sales tax holidays around the country are likely contributing to the delay in back-to-school shopping this year, which means the next few weeks could be exceptionally busy for retailers large and small."
In total, the NRF reports that back-to-school spending has grown 42 percent in the past 10 years, and this year a total of $24.9 billion will be spent during the selling season.
Shay said that retailers can reach out to budget-conscious parents through heavy promotions that appeal to this last-minute crowd.
Just over 19 percent of consumers have not started shopping yet at all, down from 23.6 percent last year. But 13.3 percent have finished BTS completely.
Promotions and coupons have a big influence on BTS shoppers. Among those respondents that have started shopping, 51.3 percent were influenced by coupons, sales and promotions, down from 58 percent last year.
Classroom requirements and lists of school supplies—pencils, notebooks, etc.—influence 64.4 percent of purchases and 45.9 percent of electronic purchases.
Where are consumers planning to finish their shopping? Just over 53 percent will go to discounts stores; 46.8 percent will shop department stores; 36.6 percent will visit clothing stores; and 12.8 percent will go to electronics stores.
As for online, 27.2 percent of shoppers will search for online deals, up from 24.8 percent this time last year.
Still, in-store will beat out online sales as millennials look forward to time at the mall during BTS season for three key reasons: they like having so many stores in one place, 73 percent; they love in-store promotions, 44 percent; and they can shop with friends, 33 percent.
Coupons still have the biggest impact on BTS shopping, cited by 43.4 percent of shoppers, followed by in-store promotions, 35.3 percent; advertising inserts, 31 percent; word of mouth, 21.5 percent; and television ads, 19.4 percent.
-See this National Retail Federation press release
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