From late-night shopping events to sweetened deals on tablets and laptops, retailers are wooing back-to-college shoppers.
With shopping lists that include electronics, dorm room furniture and more, parents are expected to spend an average of $907.22 on back-to-school merchandise for college students this year, a $100 increase from last year and $200 more than parents of grade-school students, according to a recent National Retail Federation survey.
For the 11th consecutive year, Target will shuttle freshman students to its stores for a one-time, late-night shopping event. In Oklahoma, the retailer will pick up students from the University of Oklahoma at 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 18 and pamper them with prizes, a live DJ, dancing, entertainment and photos with Bullseye, Target's mascot.
Best Buy has been promoting its tablets, laptops and smartphones since the beginning of summer. Some deals, such as $100 off an Apple Inc. or a free Xbox with purchase of a Windows PC of $699 or more, are available only to students with a valid university email address, said Jeff Blood, a manager at the Best Buy, 5801 N May.
Sam's Club is promoting big packages of everyday college necessities such as laundry detergent, toothpaste and ink jet cartridges, as well as bundles for school supplies, snacks and room organization.
Dorm room items and furniture are expected in be in high demand. In a recent survey of 8,500 consumers, the National Retail Federation found one quarter of U.S. college students are planning to live in campus housing this year, the most in the survey's history. The survey is conducted by BIGinsight.
Total spending for back-to-college is expected to reach $53.5 billion nationwide. Eight in 10 back-to-college shoppers said the economy has impacted their spending plans.
“With fewer ‘needs' than a typical grade-school student, college students and their families are much more likely to look for ways to cut corners this summer as much of their costs come in the form of tuition and living arrangements,” said Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation.
“As the economy continues to play a role in Americans' spending decisions, retailers will offer shoppers plenty of ways to save money both in their stores and on their websites, including bundles, free gifts and gift cards with their purchase and even free online shipping on school items, aiming to attract value-focused back-to-college shoppers.”