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Survey: Back-to-school spending increases — but not across the board

BY Dan Berthiaume
Parents are opening their wallets for the upcoming academic year, but being selective in what, where and how they buy.
 
According to a new survey of parents of children in grades K-12 and children entering their freshman year of college by The Rubicon Project, more than a third of all parents (34%) and nearly half of college freshman parents in particular (49%) — have already started back-to-school shopping. Sixty-one percent of all parents plan to spend more than they did last year, spending approximately $917 per child on average. Freshmen parents plan to spend $1,378 per child, almost twice the $684 the average K-12 parent plans to spend.
 
This year, parents plan to spend the bulk of their increased back-to-school budget on tech-related items. While school supplies and apparel remain top priorities, the biggest budget item for both K-12 ($343) and college freshmen parents was technology ($470). For K-12 parents, apparel ($233) was the second-largest spend, while dorm supplies ($324) were second-biggest expenditure for parents of college freshmen.  
 
For the first time most parents plan to skip brick-and-mortar outlets for their tech purchases picking Amazon as their go-to retailer for technology-related items. Sixty percent of all parents surveyed plan to use mobile devices for some back to school shopping — 30% plan to do at least a quarter of their total shopping on mobile devices.
 
When it comes to how they will shop, more than half of parents surveyed plan to shop for technology and telecommunications online, while apparel, school supplies, and food and beverage remain primarily brick-and-mortar shopping purchases.
 
Amazon claimed the top spot for technology as parents increasingly turn to the online retailer for major purchases such as laptops, tablets and other devices. Wal-Mart remained the top retailer for apparel (66%) and school supplies (77%). For K-12 parents, Amazon has moved ahead of Staples as the third-most-popular destination for school supplies compared with 2015, when Staples accounted for 39% and Amazon 38% of spend in this category.
 
Nearly one-third (30%) of parents surveyed will do at least 25% of their back-to-school shopping on a mobile device, with parents of college freshmen (42%) significantly outpacing K-12 parents (25%). Dads outpace moms in mobile purchasing as 41% of dads said they will do at least a quarter of their online shopping on a mobile device, compared to just 24% of moms.
 
Not surprisingly, retailer mobile applications are becoming increasingly popular as almost half of parents surveyed (47%) have the Amazon mobile application and 40% of college-bound freshmen parents utilize at least three shopping apps. Seventy-one percent of parents plan to use retailer apps before they make a purchase. Sixty-six percent use mobile apps to compare prices while 64% use them to find out about sales.
 
Parents are also becoming increasingly comfortable with in-app purchases, with more than a third of all parents allowing their children to make them.
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NRF: Consumers want swipe fee status quo

BY Dan Berthiaume

The people have spoken – and they like limits on debit card swipe fees the way they are.
 
According to new data from the National Retail Federation (NRF), 89% of consumers want to maintain Federal Reserve limits on the fees banks charge retailers and their customers when they use a debit card to pay for purchase. In addition, 84% say swipe fees should be set on a competitive basis rather than letting credit card companies set their own fees that virtually all the banks that issue their credit and debit cards charge.
 
The NRF has been actively opposing a proposal from the head of the House Financial Services Committee to repeal a cap on debit card swipe fees. According to the NRF, the fees have saved consumers billions of dollars over the past five years.
 
Since October 2011, swipe fees for debit cards issued by the nation’s largest banks have been capped at 22 cents per transaction plus 0.05% of the purchase price, or just under a quarter in most cases. Before the Fed acted, NRF data indicates the swipe fee on an average debit purchase was typically about 45 cents, but it could add $10 to $20 to the price of a large purchase like an airline ticket or big-screen TV. The NRF says the cap is still far higher than the average 4 cents the Fed estimates it costs banks to process a debit transaction.
 
“The truth is that the debit card swipe fee cap has been a win for consumers, retailers and the nation’s economy by sharply reducing a hidden tax collected by the banks,” Mallory Duncan, senior VP and general counsel for the NRF, said in a press release. “Repealing it would be a win for no one but the banks.”

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Forbes: Target CIO outlines digital, supply chain innovation

BY David Salazar
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