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Kids Head Back to School with Shiny New Devices

Mothers turn to smartphones to find back-to-school coupons

Back-to-school shopping may be a year-round activity now, but this time of year is still when it really heats up. Based on July 2014 polling by ebiquity for American Express, parents are likely dropping big bucks on electronic devices as kids head back to the classroom.

Among US parent internet users with school-age children and/or college students, average back-to-school spending on electronic devices was $529. Meanwhile, second-place textbooks saw an average of $270 in spending, while No. 3 clothing and accessories trailed with a close $265. In all, parents planned to spend an average of $1,151 on back-to-school this year, a 5% year-over-year rise.

Mobile devices are playing a big role during this process, especially when it comes to saving a few dollars on such purchases. A July 2014 study by PunchTab found that the majority (63%) of US mothers with children under the age of 18 planned to use their smartphones while back-to-school shopping. This deal-seeking group was most likely to turn to smartphones for assistance with price-related queries. Nearly half of respondents said they intended to use their phones to find coupons or sales, while 30% wanted to compare prices across different stores.

Even after stepping foot in a store, mothers indicated that smartphones—and especially deals found on those smartphones—would still play a role in what they bought for their kids. Among the 59% of respondents who planned to use their smartphones while back-to-school shopping in brick-and-mortars, 46% said they would look for mobile coupons. No other response came close: Online reviews and checking point status or loyalty rewards were each cited by 11% of respondents, while just 3% planned to use their smartphones to use a mobile wallet or payment app to pay for purchases.

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