Back-to-School Starts Early
We see Christmas in July sales and Halloween items on display by Labor Day, so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that some stores are already beginning to look to back-to-school before the Fourth of July.
In fairness, stores do have reason for getting an earlier start in many parts of the country as school years don’t follow the post-Labor Day schedules that many of us remember from our youth.
Back-to-school shopping also doesn’t mean the same thing as it once did. Shopping patterns are changing. While basic supplies such as pads and pencils are required for the start of school, kids don’t rush today to purchase fall fashions as their Baby Boomer parents/grandparents once did. Today, those purchases are often put off until after school starts, prices drop and the weather suits the clothes (thank you Harry Nilsson).
As a Dow Jones Newswire piece points out, big ticket consumer electronic purchases such as tablets and PCs are also common for back-to-school, especially among kids going off to college. (How about a show of hands from all those who remember when an IBM Selectric typewriter was a big purchase?)
The state of the economy will eventually play a major factor in just how much consumers spend this year for back-to-school. A National Retail Federation survey found that the economy will have an effect on back-to-school shopping for 80.4 percent of consumers with school-aged children, down from 86 percent last year. Predictions for just how much better or worse back-to-school will be this year have yet to be made public.
Discussion Questions: How has back-to-school shopping changed and what does it mean for retailers? Do retailers getting an early start have an advantage over those that wait?