NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- When it comes to back-to-school shopping, price is sitting at the head of the class.

According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation and BIGresearch released on Tuesday, of those shoppers who have already begun their back-to-school shopping, 47.8% were influenced by sales and coupons.

"The days of mom and dad letting children put whatever they want in the shopping cart are over," Pam Goodfellow, senior analyst of strategic initiatives at BIGresearch, said in a statement. "Parents don't want to send their kids to school in clothes that don't fit or with a calculator that doesn't work, but they are making careful spending decisions based on price instead of giving kids free reign to pick out whatever they want."

And six out of the 10 American families (62.2%) who still have shopping left to do said they will head to a discount store.

This should bode well for

Wal-Mart Stores

(WMT) - Get Report

and

Target

(TGT) - Get Report

, but with shoppers waiting longer to make purchases, those benefits might not be realized until September.

As of Aug. 11, only 41.6% of American families had completed their back-to-school shopping, according to the survey. This shift into later back-to-school purchases took a toll on some of the retailers that reported second-quarter earnings last week like

Macy's

(M) - Get Report

and

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

.

Other than the discounters, when it comes to price plays,

Aeropostale

(ARO)

and

Wet Seal

(WTSLA)

beat out the competition, Brean Murray Carret analyst Eric Beder wrote in a note.

Shoppers can get three t-shirts and tank tops for $15 from Wet Seal, compared with one tank top at $19.90 from

Abercrombie & Fitch

(ANF) - Get Report

, Beder wrote.

And with an unemployment rate of 23.8% for teens aged 16 to 19, they will presumably be looking to get the most bang for their buck.

This was made evident when

Abercrombie reported yet another loss

in the second quarter, as its sales continued to slump across all of its divisions.

Beder also called out

Urban Outfitters

(URBN) - Get Report

as a "best in class" pick, citing compelling merchandise at prices shoppers deem "fair."

American Eagle Outfitters

(AEO) - Get Report

and

Pacific Sunwear of California

(PSUN)

, however, will be hard pressed, Beder wrote; as middle-ground players, they will be increasingly squeezed from both the top and bottom.

Meanwhile, although consumers are still holding out for sales and explosive promotions,

retailers are attempting to wean them off deep discounts

.

Instead of running store-wide promotions, companies are increasingly turning toward specific item or category sales, most notably in

denim, a key item for back-to-school

.

Wet Seal's colored denim is just $10; Aeropostale's polos and jeans are buy one get one free; Pacific Sunwear is offering two pairs of women's skinny jeans for $55; American Eagle is selling denim for $34.95, originally $39.50; and select Abercrombie denim is now $59.90, down from $80.

Earlier in the summer, NRF said it expects families with students in grades kindergarten through 12

will spend $548.72 on school merchandise, down 7.7%

from $594.24 in 2008.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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