What’s the most popular back-to-school “must have” this year? According to a recent survey of moms across the country conducted on behalf of Lands’ End and Parents, it’s a budget. The survey found almost three-quarters (73 percent) of moms will have a budget in place before shopping for back-to-school items this school year. Moms also revealed they will be shopping with less. In fact, more than six out of ten (63 percent) disclosed they have a smaller back-to-school budget this year than last. Most (67 percent) plan to spend between $100 and $200 per child on back-to-school clothing. “It’s evident that parents are more financially conscious than ever before, budgeting for groceries, family trips and now back-to-school shopping,” said Katherine Hurley, vice president and general merchandise manager for Lands’ End Kids. “As a result, smart moms are using a variety of shopping strategies to be sure kids are ready to head back to class.”  The majority of moms (83 percent) claim to be “smart shoppers” when it comes to back-to-school purchases compared to “impulse buyers” (5 percent) or “easily-persuaded purchasers” (7 percent). An overwhelming majority (97 percent) of these savvy shopping strategists seem to agree on one thing: they will purchase mix-and-match items to maximize a wardrobe and create more back-to-school outfits.  In addition, moms are looking for school clothes at a great price that will last. In fact, more than half (51 percent) stated quality is the most important characteristic to consider when buying school clothes, followed closely by price (43 percent) and style (6 percent). To find back-to-school essentials, more than half of moms surveyed (54 percent) plan to shop around to get the best quality for the price, 34 percent will only shop sales, while 9 percent plan to clip coupons and a mere 3 percent will let the kids pick out whatever they want.

“While moms may not let kids take control of back-to-school spending, most make sure their kids are involved in shopping and selecting items,” said Chandra Turner, executive editor of Parents. “Many parents are approaching back-to-school shopping as an important ‘recession lesson’ about budgeting, comparison shopping and the difference between want and need.”  The 2009 Back-to-School Shopping and Spending survey uncovered additional interesting facts:

  • Mom’s Jitters – Kids will not be the only ones with jitters as school-time approaches, 63 percent of moms stated they are more anxious about shopping this year than last.
  • Sticking to It – Not only are moms making budgets, 54 percent plan to make them and stick to them.
  • Big Kids Rule – When it comes to spending, six out of ten moms (60 percent) stated they would spend more money on a big kid versus a little kid.
  • Not Enough – 41 percent of moms surveyed stated that when back-to-school shopping is complete, they will have spent more than what they budgeted for this year.
  • They’ve Got Personality – Six out of ten moms (60 percent) stated it is either extremely important or important for kids to feel unique and able to express their personality in new clothes when heading back to class.
  • Eco-Friendly – Moms are in search of eco-friendly items this back-to-school season. An overwhelming 83 percent stated they will purchase eco-friendly items if they are priced right.