If we had to use just one word to describe the climate surrounding this year's back to school shopping season, we would use the word restraint. This is not to say that all of the air is out of the balloon, but it wouldn't hurt if it was propped up a bit. It's restraint, mainly in the form of moderation that's the big story for back to school this year. This year, students and their parents plan to spend an average of $608 on back to school-related purchases, representative of a 10% decrease compared to last year. Incoming freshmen lead the way in terms of planned spending, which can be expected to a certain extent, while an increasing number of returning students intend to make do with several items they already own.
For the most part, the decrease in planned spending is a direct result of the high level of uncertainty related to the broader economy. In fact, more than seven in ten respondents who participated in this year's back to school shopping insights immersion said the economy will impact their shopping and spending plans. Consequently, an increasing number of students will be out in the marketplace looking to buy more for less. The onus will fall back to the key youth-facing retailers to be extremely creative with their promotions in order to seize the attention of students whether they're shopping in a mall or in front of a computer.
Several leading retailers have moved up the start of their back to school sales and promotional programs in lieu of all this shopper uncertainty. We even saw a few of these programs up and running in early June. From the perspective of the retailers, the concept of front-running is a prudent move that offers up at least the opportunity to secure dollars earmarked for back to school early, with the idea that those funds just may not be readily available come late August or through the month of September.
With that said, this year we've seen an increase in the number of students who said they already started purchasing items specifically for their return to campus later this summer. At the same time, more students are telling us they're out in the marketplace looking for a good deal, especially those that are tailored specifically for the college set. Promotions and rewards offers tied to the presentation of a valid student ID is something an increasing number of students have become attuned to. Fewer students are willing to experiment and branch out with purchasing new brands this season. On the other hand, more students say they plan to stick with their original back to school shopping list and refrain from making any additional impulse type purchases.