It may only be the end of July, but it is back to school as far as the retail sector is concerned. Already, parents armed with lists of their kids’ necessary school supplies are trolling the aisles of Target, Wal-Mart and other stores.

However, the aisles may be quieter this year as more of that shopping is done online. In a recent survey of moms by MedeliaMonitor for the Web site, more than half of the responents said that they are planning to do their back-to-school shopping online this year.

The moms cited a litany of frustrations about shopping for back-to-school items in retail stores: 64% said "keeping myself and my children on the budget I set is Mission Impossible"; 42% report "feeling stressed about getting it all done within the limited time I have"; and 30% said "driving to 12 stores to find 4 items with 3 kids in tow" was not exactly their idea of fun.

However, a broader survey of shoppers by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation found that a smaller percentage (15.2%)plan to shop online for back-to-school items this year,.

For women ages 25-54 with children, online shopping is a common activity. In March 2006, 85% of women in that group visited the retail category of sites, according to comScore Media Metrix.

As moms contemplate the advantages of doing back-to-school shopping online, they are also starting the process later and later. According to NPD Group of 34,000 shoppers (of all ages and both genders), 40% plan to start shopping before Aug. 1, compared with 43% in 2005. The drop is significant, NPD says, because people surveyed said they plan to spend the same amount as last year, only in a more compressed time period.

Overall, clothes and accessories will garner the biggest back-to-school spending, an estimated $7.6 billion, according to the BIGresearch data. Electronics and computer equipment will be the second biggest, an estimated $3.8 billion in spending.