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Back-to-School Shoppers Get a Summer Head Start

Back-to-school shopping is forecast to be more expensive for many U.S. families this year. . / Credit: Back-to-school shopping image via Shutterstock

It’s that time of year when legions of yellow buses head back to the barn for some well-deserved R&R, and many parents begin praying for the next school year to hurry up and arrive. But they may want to think twice about what they wish for, a new survey shows. Back-to-school shopping is forecast to be more expensive for many U.S. families this year.

It's the start of summer and consumers are already beginning to think about back-to-school shopping, according to a new survey from PriceGrabber, an online shopping site. And many consumers are planning to open their wallets wider this year, a hopeful sign for retailers that the economic recovery is gaining traction.

According to the survey, which was based on responses from more than 4,000 U.S. online shoppers, 17 percent of consumers plan to start their back-to-school shopping in June, 35 percent plan to start shopping in July, 44 percent said they plan to wait until August, and only 3 percent cited September. In 2011, respondents planned to shop a little later in the summer, with only 13 percent planning to start their shopping in June, 31 percent in July, 49 percent in August and 7 percent in September.

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And nearly half (46 percent) of consumers are planning on spending more this back-to-school season than in 2011. Slightly more than a third (35 percent) plan to spend the same amount of money and 19 percent of shoppers plan to spend less, the survey found. Last year, more than half (52 percent) of survey respondents said they would spend the same amount of money on back-to-school shopping and 35 percent said they would spend less.

"From last year's holiday shopping season through the middle of 2012, we have seen consumers starting to shop earlier surrounding major shopping seasons and holidays, and we expect this trend to continue this back-to-school shopping season," said Graham Jones, general manager of PriceGrabber. "While PriceGrabber survey data reveals that many consumers are planning to spend more money this back-to-school shopping season, a few are still hesitant about spending, leading shoppers to search for deals even earlier to take advantage of retailer incentives and discounts such as free shipping, coupons and sales."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.