Auto Club Poll: Most Southern Californians Sticking with Summer Travel Plans, But Caution May Affect Back-to-School Shopping

(LOS ANGELES – Aug. 6, 2010) – Most Southern Californians have not cut back on their summer vacation plans this year and are planning to take the same number or more trips in the next three months as they did during August through October of 2009, according to a new survey released by the Automobile Club of Southern California.
The Auto Club’s Fall Travel and Spending Poll also revealed that 56 percent of back-to-school shoppers feel more confident or have the same comfort level as last year about buying back-to-school items like clothing and supplies. One-third of shoppers with school-age children stated they are more hesitant to spend money on school-related items than they were last year.
Among travelers, 84 percent of those polled indicated they took the same number or more trips in June and July than they had originally planned. Sixteen percent – or about one in six travelers – stated they had cut back on their summer vacations this year.
For their upcoming travel plans, 73 percent said they plan to take the same number or more vacation trips this August through October compared to the same time period last year. Also, 73 percent said they plan to spend the same amount or more on travel this August through October compared to last year, while 27 percent say they will spend less.
Just 15 percent of those surveyed stated that lower costs were their primary reason for vacationing from August through October, while 24 percent said they will travel during that time because of better weather and 21 percent said they’re traveling in the next three months because it will be less crowded.
“We continue to see signs of a slow recovery in travel,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “However, while travelers are getting back on the road, they continue to be sensitive about getting the best deals and the most value for their vacation dollars.”
The same cautious attitude toward spending holds true for back-to-school shoppers, according to the survey.  Eighteen percent of polled back-to-school shoppers said they don’t plan to do anything to save money on school-related purchases, but most shoppers say they will use multiple ways to save, including:
  • Shopping at discount stores or outlets – 48 percent
  • Using more coupons – 43 percent
  • Searching for discounts or sales online – 42 percent
  • Only buying items that are on sale – 34 percent
  • Choosing less expensive stores to shop in – 34 percent
  • Reusing existing school supplies – 33 percent
“The poll also revealed prevailing attitudes about back-to-school shopping, and showed that 24 percent enjoy hunting for good deals on back-to-school items, 24 percent feel back-to-school shopping is time-consuming, and an equal number also said they associate back-to-school shopping with anxiety about spending money,” said Denise Bialek, manager of the AAA discounts program. “When value for each dollar spent is so important, we know that our members increasingly look to us to help them save money, and fortunately many of our discounts apply to back-to-school shopping.”
Polled back-to-school shoppers indicated they would spend money in the following categories:

  • School supplies – 73 percent
  • Clothing – 64 percent
  • Shoes – 55 percent
  • Books – 48 percent
  • Computer equipment – 23 percent
  • Prescription eyewear – 16 percent
  • Cell phone plans and accessories – 16 percent
  • Dorm room supplies – 12 percent
Auto Club member discounts include online purchases at (use, Barnes and (, Dell Computers ( and ( For in-store shopping, members get discounts at Gap Outlet and Banana Republic Factory Store, Payless ShoeSource, LensCrafters, Sears Optical, Target Optical and at several outlet shopping centers throughout Southern California. Visit for more details.
The online survey of more than 600 Auto Club members was taken from July 20 through July 26 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent.