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News release


Price and Efficiency, Main Drivers of Back-to-School Spending this Year

JLL consumer survey shows superstores and department stores will lead the way

CHICAGO, Aug. 2, 2016 – While kids may be off from school, it seems parents won't be giving them a vacation from back-to-school shopping. According to JLL's Back-to-School survey of nearly 2,000 consumers nationwide, only seven percent of respondents will wait until after school starts to do their shopping, a decrease from last year's nearly 11 percent that said they would wait for school to begin. Of the 93 percent that will shop prior to the school year's commencement, 86 percent plan to do it two weeks to a full month ahead of time.

Price is one of the leading factors in buying decisions this year, with just over 70 percent of respondents ranking "low prices" as the top or second most important influencer in their purchases. Consumers appear to also value efficiency as nearly 82 percent will shop at five or fewer stores for their goods.

"This year price and efficiency were the top factors influencing shopper's back-to-school buying habits, but we're seeing many shoppers increase their budgets, with 12 percent of shoppers spending more this year than last year," said Greg Maloney, CEO of JLL Retail. "While consumers may be more price conscious when it comes to back-to-school shopping, favoring superstores due to their low prices and large selection across multiple categories, the good news for retailers is that families also consider it essential spending – as opposed to the discretionary spending nature of the holidays, which can be a bit more volatile."

Budgets and Behaviors

The proclivity for low prices doesn't exactly mean that shoppers will be tightening their purse strings either. While most shoppers will once again spend less than $500 on back-to-school items this year, the share of shoppers spending between $100-$500 rose year-over-year from 63 percent in 2015 to 75 percent this year.   

"This year, we found that consumer income seems to have little effect on their budgets or behavior when it comes to back-to-school shopping. The top four shopping destinations were consistent across income groups," added Holly Rome, Director of National Leasing for JLL Retail.

Top Categories

Back-to-school shopping tends to fall in four broad categories. Easily the one that will garner the most spend is apparel, with just over half of all shoppers selecting that as their top category. Supplies and books ranked second and third respectively while, consistent with budget expectations, electronics ranked fourth.

Consumers were pretty evenly split between department stores (54.3 percent) and superstores (51.3 percent) for their top apparel purchasing locations. Roughly one-third of shoppers said they would do some of their clothes shopping at specialty apparel stores and the top brand choices are representative of their desire for low price points, with Old Navy, Ross Dress for Less, The Children's Place and American Eagle leading the way.

As for supplies, superstores are set to run-away with the category as 85 percent of shoppers indicate they will shop for supplies at these retailers.

Online Plays a Limited Role for Back-to-School

Most shoppers are eschewing online retailers for their back-to-school needs. Just 19 percent said they would buy supplies at online retailers and about one-quarter said they would buy clothes online.

"A constant theme this survey showed was consumers desire to save on cost and time. Bricks-and- mortar stores offer a wide selection and many malls, superstores and department stores offer one-stop shopping convenience. Furthermore, shipping costs and the hassle of returns were other likely deterrents for online shopping," concluded James Cook, Director of Retail Research, JLL.

JLL's retail experts partner with retailers, investors and owner/operators with an extensive team of dedicated experts around the world. They understand the inherent complexities and variability associated with both the retail industry and increasingly complex capital markets. JLL's specialists are recognized for their independent and expert advice to clients, backed by industry-leading research that delivers maximum value. With leading in-depth knowledge of the local, regional and global market dynamics, JLL aims to truly partner with its clients for the entire lifecycle of an asset or lease. Its experts deliver clients maximum value to support and shape their investment, site selection and brand strategies.   

JLL is the largest third-party retail property manager in the United States with more than 1,000 centers, totaling 125 million square feet under management. The firm has more than 140 retail brokerage experts spanning more than 30 major markets, representing more than 900 retail clients. In 2015, JLL's retail experts completed transaction management and portfolio optimization on 1,500+ leases, negotiated 500+ leases for retailers and 1,000+ leases for landlords and completed more than $2.7 billion of investment sales, dispositions and financing for investors. For more news, videos and research from JLL's Retail Group please visit:

About JLL
JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate. A Fortune 500 company with annual fee revenue of $5.2 billion and gross revenue of $6.0 billion, JLL has more than 280 corporate offices, operates in more than 80 countries and has a global workforce of more than 60,000. On behalf of its clients, the firm provides management and real estate outsourcing services for a property portfolio of 4.0 billion square feet, or 372 million square meters, and completed $138 billion in sales, acquisitions and finance transactions in 2015. Its investment management business, LaSalle Investment Management, has $59.1 billion of real estate assets under management. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit