Inside This Issue - News
Signs promising for B-T-S sales
August 6th, 2012
NEW YORK – Surveys indicate that American consumers are ready to increase their back-to-school spending significantly this year, and mass market retailers are clearly focused on making the task easier by providing more shopping options.
The annual B-T-S spending survey conducted for the National Retail Federation (NRF) by BIGinsight projects that the average household with children in grades K through 12 will spend a whopping $689 on their children this year, up from $604 last year. According to the poll, most will be spent on clothing ($246) and electronics ($218).
An ICSC-Goldman Sachs consumer tracking survey conducted for the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), meanwhile, projects an average outlay of about $300 per household, representing a year-over-year increase for 42% of those surveyed. Both surveys found a similar theme among many shoppers: the need to replace wardrobes and school supplies after restraining spending in recent years.
However, the NRF poll underlines that B-T-S shoppers will still be looking to save money in light of an uncertain economy. Not surprisingly, discount stores can expect to see the heaviest traffic, with 67% of those surveyed intending to shop discounters for school items. Drug stores are on the shopping list for 23% of shoppers polled.
The NRF survey also indicates that online shopping will continue to assume greater importance, not only as a shopping destination but as a resource for comparison shopping. Both Walmart and Target have unveiled online initiatives to boost their convenience offer.
For example, Walmart recently launched Classrooms by Walmart (classrooms.walmart.com), an online compilation of thousands of classroom supply lists from schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. According to the company, it is the first major retailer to digitize thousands of school supply lists, with more to be added throughout the summer. In addition, individual Walmart stores will have local school supply lists available.
Another online resource is Walmart’s Back to School Closet Creator, which helps families mix and match outfits on a budget. Recognizing the importance of saving money to its customers, Walmart is also offering more than 100 B-T-S items at 88 cents each, including pencil pouches, lunch totes, notebooks, gel pens and dry erase boards.
For its part, Target Corp. is offering a selection of online tools to facilitate back-to-college shopping. For instance, uStyler is an online program available at Target.com/college that allows students to mix and match dorm room products to create a personalized look. In addition, The Checklist is a customizable tool to help students organize and personalize their shopping list. It includes product recommendations based on different living situations.
Target is also taking the extra step of hosting private after-hours shopping events for incoming freshmen at 69 colleges and universities nationwide. Throughout this month and next, incoming students will be transported from their campus to a nearby Target for an evening of entertainment and exclusive offers.
On a whimsical note, Target is offering Target Stuff Scholarships, which include such offers as a one-year supply of Ramen or a one-year supply of makeup.