BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group
BMO Bank of Montreal

BMO Bank of Montreal

August 20, 2012 11:00 ET

REPEAT: Cash Registers Will Be Ringing As Canadians Plan on Spending More for Back to School-BMO

- Canadians plan to spend an average of $362 on back to school purchases-up from $319 last year

- 46 per cent will be shopping at local retailers-only one-in-four online

- 96 per cent looking to cut costs on back to school shopping

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 20, 2012) - While economic concerns persist, Canadian retailers should expect to see a boost from back to school shoppers during the second busiest shopping season of the year. A new study from BMO Bank of Montreal released today shows that Canadians plan to spend more on back to school shopping compared to last year and nearly half (46 per cent) plan to do their shopping at local retailers.

"For many retail businesses, the back to school shopping season is the second most important sales period in the year," said Cathy Pin, Vice-President, BMO Commercial Banking. "It is also a great opportunity for shoppers to support their local businesses when buying the necessities to get the school year off on the right foot."

According to the survey, conducted by Pollara, 54 per cent of Canadians will be back to school shopping this year, with shoppers expecting to spend an average of $362, up from $319 in 2011 (a 13 per cent increase). The survey found that on a per-person basis, Canadians expect to spend:

  • $164 per child in Kindergarten/Elementary school
  • $171 per child in Junior/High school
  • $213 per child in Post-Secondary/University

Regionally, for the second straight year, Quebecers plan to spend the most on back-to-school shopping ($421), followed by Atlantic Canadians and British Columbia ($397). Once again, those on the Prairies plan to spend the least ($200).

The survey also found that the majority of Canadians plan to look at multiple sources for back-to-school shopping, with 85 per cent saying they will make purchases at big box stores, 46 per cent at local/independent retailers, and 26 per cent online. Albertans are the most likely (90 per cent) to buy at big box stores, with British Columbians the most likely to shop at smaller businesses (66 per cent). Ontarians are most likely to shop online (34 per cent).

"Canadian consumer spending has slowed, and is on pace for sub-2% growth through the third quarter after expanding 2.4% in 2011," said Robert Kavcic, Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "Continued low interest rates will provide support, but shaky confidence could weigh on the back-to-school shopping season."

Cost-Savings Strategies

According to the BMO Study, Canadian consumers are definitely looking to save money this back-to-school shopping season, with 96 per cent planning to make efforts to limit their spending. The most common strategies include looking for deals and using coupons (65 per cent), comparing prices at different stores (64 per cent), re-use supplies from last year (55 per cent), and only buy what is essential (50 per cent). By comparison, shoppers are less likely to employ strategies such as:

  • Saying 'NO' to children on trendy or expensive items - 32 per cent
  • Setting a firm budget - 29 per cent
  • Using 'hand-me-downs' from other family members - 17 per cent

For students managing their own back to school spending, BMO offers a no-fee Student SPC MasterCard which includes both a free SPC membership, which provides 10 to 15 per cent discounts at hundreds of retailers across Canada, and the option of receiving AIR MILES reward miles or cash back loyalty rewards on their cards.

BMO gives a breakdown of how much Canadians should expect to pay for some back to school items:

Category Approximate Total Cost
School Supplies
• Pens, pencils, lined paper, erasers, sticky notes, highlighters, notebooks, organizer and binders

$25 to $40
• Pair of jeans, 2 shirts, a sweater, pair of running shoes and 3 pairs of socks and undergarments

$210 to $260
• Backpack, pencil case and lunch bag

$35 to $50
• Magnets, lock, gym uniform and head phones

$25 to $40
$295 to $390
Additional Items - Technology:
• Calculator, laptop, printer and USB key (8GB)

$800 to $1200
*Based on an internet sampling of major retailers' current sale prices for back to school supplies

Survey was completed online from July 31 to August 3, 2012, by Pollara Strategic Insights, with a sample of 1000 Canadians. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-3.1 per cent 19 times out of 20.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $525 billion as at April 30, 2012, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

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