August 22, 2008, 12:00 AM

Parents are cutting back on school supplies, PriceGrabber says

41% of parents plan to spend less on back-to-school items because of the weak economy, a survey by PriceGrabber.com finds. And their spending mix is shifting. Clothing is a top priority, while they`re spending less on school supplies and electronics.

Parents are cutting back on spending during this back-to-school season, but less so on clothing than on school supplies, computers and electronics, according to a survey by online price comparison site PriceGrabber.com.

41% of the online consumers with school-age children say they will cut back on spending this year because of the weak economy. But the cutbacks will not be across the board.

57% of parents say they will spend the most on clothing this year, versus 44% in PriceGrabber’s survey last year. But only 19% say electronics and computer-related equipment will take up the biggest part of their budget compared with 23% last year, and 18% say school supplies, versus 22% last year.

Asked how they plan to save money this year, 51% say by shopping in discount stores, 38% by using online comparison shopping sites and 27% by printing coupons from retailers’ web sites.

About half of parents of kids in grade school, junior high and high school say their back-to-school budget is between $100 and $499, while only 24% of parents of college-age kids cite that range. Among parents of older students, 21% say they plan to spend more than $500, 8% less than $100 and 47% say they have no budget at all.

The web ranked second as the most likely place to research and shop, at 26%, behind department stores (33%). Other places where parents are shopping are office supplies stores (19%), specialty clothing or electronics shops (17%) and drug stores (5%).

The results are based on a survey of 1,802 online consumers between July 24 and Aug. 7.

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