Poll: Procrastinating Parents Delaying Back-to-School Shopping and Budgeting

Economic Concerns Prevalent Among Parents of School-Aged Children, According to New Poll by U.S. News & World Report and Chase Card Services

WILMINGTON, Del. August 17, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — As millions of young Americans head back to the classroom this season, the majority of parents are likely waiting until the last minute to start shopping and budgeting for their back-to-school purchases, according to a new poll released today by Chase Card Services, a division of JPMorgan Chase & Co. [NYSE: JPM], and U.S. News & World Report. The Chase Slate-U.S. News Consumer Monitor found that 55 percent of families have not yet begun their back-to-school shopping, and that, overall, 62 percent of families have not set a budget for back-to-school purchases.

While many families have not yet set a plan for the season’s expenses, the survey reveals a majority of back-to-school shoppers see the benefits: even among those who don’t have a budget, 61 percent reported that having a budget for back-to-school shopping would help prepare them for the new school year.

“With a plan in place, parents are empowered to make the right decisions in what can often be a significant shopping season,” said Tom O’Donnell, general manager, Chase Card Services. “And there is no better moment to teach kids about planning and spending wisely than when the money is being spent on them.”

The Chase Slate-U.S. News Consumer Monitor, fielded by Ipsos Public Affairs, surveyed 1,080 adults nationwide about their families’ back-to-school spending plans and general economic outlook this fall.

2010: Bigger Shopping Lists, Tighter Wallets

As school-aged children bring home shopping lists for school supplies and outside-the-classroom expenses, many parents are tightening their belts wherever possible. Of the 38 percent of Americans who have set a budget for back-to-school shopping this year, 41 percent said their budgets are smaller this year as compared to 2009.

In addition, 34 percent of Americans reported that they are only planning to buy their children necessary school supplies, cutting back on wish lists in favor of must-have purchases only. In an effort to try to spend less on back-to-school purchases, Americans are also considering the following tactics: shopping at discount stores (59 percent), reusing school-related supplies (36 percent), and clipping coupons (24 percent).

While some families overall expect to spend more on back-to-school shopping this summer than last year (35 percent), many families expect to spend less on school preparations. The school-related expenses Americans are most likely to focus on when trying to reduce costs this year include clothing, supplies, tuition, and weekend and extracurricular activities.





Weekend Activities

Sports/Art Activities

“[W]hat are the school-related expenses that you are most likely to focus on when spending less this year?”






Parents Scrambling as School Kicks Off

Although most American schools are heading back in session within the next two weeks, the Chase Slate-U.S. News Consumer Monitor found that 55 percent of families haven’t even started their back-to-school shopping. Among those who have started, 60 percent haven’t yet finished crossing items off their lists. Back-to-school shoppers with younger children—in either middle or elementary school—are much more likely to have started than those with older children (65 percent vs. 47 percent). Many factors appear to be contributing to this trend, including:

  • “Necessary, but not fun”: While 18 percent of parents “do not enjoy back-to-school shopping,” 50 percent classify it as “just something I have to do.”
  • “Money’s tight”: 30 percent of back-to-school shoppers indicated their personal finances are at bottom and not getting any better or worse, while 26 percent said they have not yet bottomed out and will continue to get worse.
  • “Can be stressful”: Parents were asked to rate the level of stress that accompanies back-to-school shopping (on a scale of one to 10 from most stressful to least stressful), and 15 percent said very stressful (answering 1-3), while 38 percent said moderately stressful (answering 4-7).

Families’ Economic Pessimism Endures

In addition to highlighting school spending trends, the Chase Slate-U.S. News Consumer Monitor revealed continued pessimism about the economy and personal finances during the back-to-school season. Of Americans surveyed, 45 percent believe that the economy has not yet bottomed out and will still get worse. Regarding financial management, 62 percent of Americans reported that they are completely or mostly in control of their personal finances, while 36 percent believe they are somewhat or not at all in control of their finances.

Among those surveyed, female back-to-school shoppers are more optimistic than men about the economy (41 percent vs. 26 percent). Women are also better prepared and in control (68 percent vs. 55 percent), and are looking to spend less than their male counterparts (29 percent vs. 15 percent).

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Chase Slate-U.S. News Monitor Methodology

Ipsos conducted the poll by telephone August 3-9 on behalf of Chase Card Services and U.S. News & World Report, among a nationally representative, randomly selected sample of 1,080 adults aged 18 and older across the United States. With a sample of this size, results are considered accurate within 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire U.S. adult population been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. The data was weighted to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to U.S. Census figures. Respondents had the option to be interviewed in English or Spanish.

About JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.0 trillion and operations in more than 60 countries. The firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers, small business and commercial banking, financial transaction processing, asset management and private equity. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.