CHICAGO (Reuters) - Families are finishing more of their back-to-school shopping earlier this year than last year, according to a survey released Thursday.
The survey, from the National Retail Foundation, found that American families had already completed 43.2 percent of their shopping, compared with 41.6 percent this time last year.
Some retailers have said in recent days that they expect consumers to shop later in the back-to-school season. The NRF report said about a quarter of families, and more than a third of families with college-aged students, haven't started shopping yet.
The NRF, the world's largest retail trade association, said in July it expected Americans to spend $55.12 billion on back-to-school items this year and said back-to-school sales would be the first real test for retailers and the economy leading up to the holidays.
The survey of 8,201 consumers, released on Thursday, also found that more families this year said school purchases were influenced by coupons, sales or promotions and that more families planned to use the Internet for school purchases.
Participants in the survey said they were more likely to shop at department stores than anywhere else and cited retailers Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Target Corp and Staples Inc as having the best back-to-school television ads.
The survey was conducted by BIGresearch from August 3 through August 10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percent.
Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Steve Orlofsky