Retail Council of Canada's 2007 Back-to-School Consumer Trends

    Canadian Consumers Remain Confident

    TORONTO, Aug. 20 /CNW/ - With less than three weeks left until school
starts, retailers and consumers alike are getting into "back-to-school" mode -
the second-busiest shopping season behind the Holiday Season. As a new study
conducted for Retail Council of Canada (RCC) by POLLARA indicates, 37% of
Canadians plan to shop for back-to-school items this year. On average,
Canadians plan to spend approximately $353 on school-related items, with 34%
intending to spend $400 or more.
    "The fundamentals of our economy that most directly affect consumers are
still strong. So far this year, Canada has created more than 200,000 new jobs,
personal incomes have risen by more than three per cent, and interest rates
have remained stable. In response to this, Canadians have continued their
pattern of solid growth in buying and we expect this pattern to continue
through the back-to-school season," says Diane J. Brisebois, President and
CEO, Retail Council of Canada. "The most recent data from Statistics Canada
indicates that strong retail sales continued through June, with sales in large
retail stores rising 6.9 per cent. Absent of any unexpected changes in the
economy, we expect Canadians to remain prudent but confident through the fall
    Brisebois adds, "Back-to-school is an exciting time for both consumers
and retailers marked by new merchandise, emerging trends and increased
shopping traffic across the country. While clothing, footwear and school
supplies are staples, trends in technology have changed the face of
back-to-school in the last five years, with more emphasis on electronics than
ever before for people of all ages."
    "The results in this survey reinforce the fact that back-to-school is a
key time of the year for Canadian families. Interestingly, 48% of respondents
intend to spend the same amount on back-to-school items as last year, while
33% intend to spend more," says Roland Merbis, Vice-President, Public Affairs,
    On average, Canadians shopping for back-to-school intend to spend $193 on
clothing, with 25% spending between $100 and $199. School supplies are also a
mainstay with Canadians intending to spend $123 on average, with 26% of
respondents planning to spend between $100 and $199. Back-to-school also marks
a time for new footwear with respondents looking to spend $80 on new shoes,
with 22% spending between $50 and $99.

    A survey by RCC of retail members across the country cited some
back-to-school trends in the following categories:

    -   Clothing: For boys/young men - polo shirts, khaki pants, argyle
        sweaters, hoodies, vests and cargo pants, and for girls/young women -
        leggings, tunic tops, skinny or wide-leg jeans with wide
    -   Footwear: For girls/young women - riding boots, oxfords, ballet
        flats, ankle boots and flat booties, and for boys/young men -
        skater/athletic shoes;
    -   Electronics: MP3 players, notebook computers, pocket size USB flash
        drives, desktop webcams, digital cameras, multifunctional cellular
        phones, and wireless mouse and keyboards;
    -   Toys: Electronic learning laptops, interactive story books, and pen-
        top computer systems;
    -   Characters: SpongeBob SquarePants, Webkinz plush animals, Thomas The
        Train & Friends, Transformers, Bratz, and Harry Potter; and,
    -   School Supplies: Locker organization tools such as an extendable
        locker shelf, bright pens, pencils and markers, binders and backpacks
        that come with embedded speakers to hook up to an MP3 player, and
        character lunch bags.

    Highlights of the survey include:

    How Much Are Canadians Spending?
    -   Residents of Quebec and Alberta will spend the most on back-to-school
        items this year ($449 and $409 respectively).
    -   Residents of the Prairie provinces intend to spend the least ($269).
    -   Men will spend slightly more on back-to-school items, on average
        $360, compared to women, $349.

    What Are They Buying?
    -   85% of Canadians plan to purchase clothing this back-to-school
    -   Residents of Quebec and the Atlantic provinces intend to spend the
        most on clothes this back-to-school shopping season, $249 and $203
        respectively, followed by residents of Alberta ($199) and Ontario
    -   On average, men predict that they will spend more on clothing than
        women this season ($205 compared to $185 respectively).

    Electronics and Computer-related Equipment:
    -   For those 52% of Canadians who intend to purchase electronics and/or
        computer-related equipment for back-to-school, they plan to spend
        $254 on average.

    -   On average, residents of Quebec and Atlantic Canada plan to spend the
        most on shoes this back-to-school shopping season ($95 and $93

    School Supplies:
    -   Residents of Quebec plan to spend significantly more ($200) than
        other Canadians on school supplies. The Atlantic provinces come in
        second at $135, while Albertans place third, intending to spend $102,
        on average.

    -   Canadians who are heading to college and university will need to
        furnish their rooms and 40% of back-to-school shoppers who plan to
        purchase furniture will look to spend on average $302.

    Who Is Buying?
    -   Of those surveyed, 69% of back-to-school shoppers are parents, while
        18% intend to purchase items for themselves and 5% are grandparents.

    For detailed research tables, visit or

    About the Study

    These are the findings of a Retail Council of Canada/POLLARA poll
conducted from August 7 to August 13, 2007. For the survey, a representative
randomly selected sample of 2,634 adult Canadians was polled through an online
omnibus. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to
+/-1.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had
the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The margin of error will be
larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population.
These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex
composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the
2001 Census data. The actual results of back-to-school sales may differ/vary
from the intentions stated in these findings.

    About Retail Council of Canada

    Retail Council of Canada ( is the Voice of Retail.
It is a not-for-profit association representing more than 40,000 stores of all
retail formats, including independent merchants, regional and national mass
and specialty chains, and online merchants.

    About POLLARA

    POLLARA (, the largest Canadian public opinion and
marketing research firm, helps its clients improve their performance through
strategic research designed and analyzed by consultants who are experts in
their fields. Drawing on the talents of more than 650 employees located in
6 cities, POLLARA provides a full range of research services to leading
global, national, and local companies and to public and non-profit sector

For further information:

For further information: Retail Council of Canada: Stephanie Petroff at
(416) 922-0553, ext. 228, e-mail; POLLARA: Roland
Merbis at (416) 921-0090, e-mail

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