Moms' back-to-school spending trends for fall 2012

by Mollee Bauer

Back-to-school SpendingFalls signals many things. The colors of the leaves changing, the weather hopefully getting a bit cooler, and the kids finally going back to school!

It also signals the inevitable and quick separation of money from your wallet.

Moms all over the U.S. are getting ready for their annual haj to the multitudes of temples of consumerism – aka your friendly neighborhood discount super stores. Whether it's the big chains or the local dime store, moms have their lists and battle plans ready to go.

There are moms who've already braved the battle and donated their blood, sweat, time and money to the cause as the school year has already started in some states.

How do you think moms are spending this year? How does it breakdown? The answers might surprise you! According to one survey, it's trending similarly to last year, with a few exceptions.

Moms' 2012 spending habits similar to 2011

According to a 250-woman panel put together by Social Savvy, 42.3 percent of moms are expecting to spend the same amount they did last year. 41.9 percent said they’d be spending more for products this year than last, with only 17 percent of moms admitting to spending less.

The data behind the “spending more” crowd is based on the fact that the mom has an additional child starting school, or their older child has more requirements after moving up grade-wise. This could mean a cost increase for materials such as scientific calculators or lab fees.

The moms spending less than they did last year attribute their good fortune to "stockpiling" materials from the previous year or just not having as much money to splurge due to current economic woes.

The panel shared the actual amount they’d splurge on supplies in 2012. 35 percent planned to spend between $100 and $200; 24.5 percent between $200 and $300. Only one-fifth of the group estimated that they’d spend under $100 while a whopping 21.5 percent said they’d be spending more than $300. In what could be a surprising result, only 1.7 percent of the moms' budget will be earmarked for electronics. Sorry Apple.

The panel also revealed where they’d shop for all these treasures and why. It may not be what you think – only 2.7 percent of the moms surveyed said they'd be shopping exclusively online. In sharp contrast, 40.7 percent plan to actually shop in-store and 56.4 percent will do a combination of online and in-store purchases.

The moms said that price was the biggest driving factor in choosing "where" to shop.

When asked about what they disliked most about this annual chore, the overwhelming answer was discovering that a key item was out of stock. That makes the moms pretty angry. These women even had their own suggestions for retailers to prevent "mom-hulks" from appearing for back-to-school shopping:

• Keep shelves stocked, especially sales items
• Hand out more coupons and discounts
• Create kits that have everything you need – think grab and go
• Have more selection and variety

What was the number one "must-have" on their lists? The winner was a cool new backpack with a well-known brand, license or manufacturer attached.

Which group are you a part of? What is the must-have on your list? Tell us how you’ll be taking care of your annual trip to the temples of consumerism!

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.