New Survey: More Than Four-in-10 Working Mothers Expect to Spend More This Back-to-School Season, Citing Biggest Expense as Clothing and School Uniforms

Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:30am EDT

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New Survey: More Than Four-in-10 Working Mothers Expect to Spend More This Back-to-School Season, Citing Biggest Expense as Clothing and School Uniforms

Surprisingly, 69 Percent Plan to Shop Primarily In-Person Rather than Online; Sixty-Two Percent Would Buy Latest Technology for Kids if Money Were No Object

Forty-one percent of working mothers expect to spend more this year on back-to-school shopping than they did last year, while almost half (48 percent) plan to spend about the same, according to a new poll released today by Working Mother magazine and Chase Slate. Over half (53 percent) of working mothers attribute their spending level to the rising cost of school supplies, and 46 percent expect clothing and school uniforms to be their biggest expense. Surprisingly, 69 percent of working mothers surveyed plan to do most or all of their back-to-school shopping in-person, with three-in-10 (31 percent) planning to buy all of their school items in-person.

The Working Mother-Chase Slate Back-to School survey was fielded among 820 back-to-school shoppers, with 302 working mothers represented. The nationwide survey focused consumer sentiment around back-to-school season and anticipated expenditures for the upcoming school year.

Work/Life Balance

Almost a third (28 percent) of working mothers cite balancing work and children’s needs as their biggest challenge for the upcoming school year, compared to 21 percent of back-to-school shoppers overall.

According to the survey, more than a third (37 percent) of working mothers are planning on making changes to their work schedules to accommodate their children’s needs. Instead of working fewer hours, working mothers are planning on adjusting their schedules to better fit their children’s while still keeping the same total hours at work. Of those planning to change their schedules, 85 percent said they are somewhat or very comfortable with the change.

"Our survey shows that working mothers are putting flexibility to work for them -- and that they are confident that they can successfully meet the demands on them as a mom and employee,” Jennifer Owens, editorial director, Working Mother Media, said. “This data sheds light on the many ways working moms tackle this stressful season, such as shopping online and adjusting work hours to meet their child care needs. It's interesting to note that between opportunities to buy in bulk and save on shipping costs, working moms report that in-person shopping is still an important tactic when it comes to getting their children ready for school.”

Expenses

Back-to-School season is the second biggest shopping time of the year behind the holidays. School supply lists, school uniforms, and tech tools can add up to large expenses for families. Of those working mothers surveyed, almost half (46 percent) expect clothing and school uniforms to be their biggest expense and over a quarter (29 percent) also say that clothing and uniforms are the items causing the most financial distress this back-to-school season. Twenty-one percent of working mothers expect extracurricular activities, such as sports and music lessons, to be their biggest expense and over a quarter are distressed about these additional back-to-school costs.

While working mothers are focused on the cost of necessities for the new school year, they still have big-ticket items on the mind. Of those surveyed, 62 percent would purchase a laptop or a tablet this school year if money were no object, suggesting electronics are top of mind year-round.

“Working mothers have a tremendous ability to juggle financial and everyday challenges year-round,” said Melissa Gonville, senior marketing director for Chase. “Back-to-school season is no different, with a long shopping list as well as preparing their children for a new school year, our data confirms that once again working mothers are managing all that is on their plates in stride.”

Budgeting

With the rising cost of school supplies, working mothers are planning dollar-saving strategies to make the most of their budgets. More than eight in ten (86 percent) working mothers plan to take advantage of sales and special offers to save money on back-to-school expenses. Also listed among the cost-saving strategies is using coupons and shopping at larger discount stores (61 percent and 57 percent, respectively). Half (50 percent) of working mothers plan to re-use items from last year to cut down on costs.

Our survey also shows that despite their distress over the cost of back-to-school expenses, working mothers surveyed are prepared to cover these expenses, with 52 percent planning to use a debit card or check card most often when shopping or paying for back-to-school expenses.

Working Mother-Chase Slate Survey Methodology

The Working Mother-Chase Slate Back-to-School survey was conducted by independent research company Research Now online between Jun. 3 and 10, 2013, on behalf of Chase Slate and Working Mother. The survey pool was made up of 820 back-to-school shoppers age 18 and older, with 302 identifying as working mothers (women who are employed full-time, part-time, or self-employed with a child under the age of 18 living at home with them). For more on the survey, go to workingmother.com/chaseslatebacktoschool.

About Working Mother Media

Working Mother Media, a division of Bonnier Corporation (bonnier.com), owns Working Mother magazine and its companion website, workingmother.com, and the Working Mother Research Institute. The National Association for Female Executives (nafe.com) and Diversity Best Practices (diversitybestpractices.com) are also units within WMM.

About Chase

Chase is the U.S. consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.4 trillion and operations in more than 60 countries. Chase serves more than 52 million consumers and small businesses through more than 5,600 bank branches, 18,700 ATMs, credit cards, mortgage offices, and online and mobile banking as well as through relationships with auto dealerships. More information about Chase is available at www.chase.com.

Chase Card Services
Erin Smolenski, 302-282-8460
erin.smolenski@chase.com

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