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NRF: BTS, BTC shoppers still prefer discounters but also liking department stores

Washington - Discount chains continue this year as the most frequented retailers by back-to-school and back-to-college shoppers, but are competing more closely with department stores, a recent National Retail Federation survey has found.

NRF's 2011 Back-to-School and Back-to-College surveys, which were conducted by consumer research firm Bigresearch, showed that among college-bound shoppers the discount stores circuit is the top destination for almost half - or 48.2%, followed closely by department stores (39.6%). Clothing stores rose among that crowd with 27.7%.

Among the K-12 grades set, the gap between discounters and department stores was slightly wider but still narrower than last year's results. More than half -- 56.9% -- of shoppers surveyed selected discount retailers as the top shopping destination for last-minute BTS shopping, while 47.1% -- representing a 10% increase over 2010's 42.7% -- chose department stores. Also gaining traction are two others: specialty clothing stores with 40.8%, up 19% from last year's 34.3%; and online, which rose 16 points to 21.7%

Overall, the report noted the average family has already completed 43.0% of their shopping for their K-12 students, similar to last year's 43.2% rate. College students and their parents have completed 44.3% of their shopping, up slightly from last year's 43.1%.

NRF's 2011 Back-to-School and Back-to-College Consumer Intentions and Actions surveys were designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to back-to-school and back-to-college spending. The surveys were conducted August 2 through 9 and polled 8,632 consumers.

"As school begins in many areas around the country, parents and students are furiously visiting stores and websites to cross the final items off of their back-to-school lists," said Matthew Shay, NRF president and ceo. "Retailers know the final stretch of the back-to-school season is crucial and are continuing to offer exceptional values on everything from clothing to computers."



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