As parents and students begin preparing for the upcoming school year in the coming weeks, retailers have already begun rolling out their back-to-school shopping strategies and promotions. This year, several specialty retailers like Apple, Pottery Barn Kids and Bed, Bath & Beyond have dug in a little harder with back-to-school promotions, with Bed, Bath & Beyond probably making the most significant effort. I think part of this is a sign that what students need for school has changed. Electronics, like laptops, are a necessity as much as pencils and books. In this edition of Retail Rap, I discuss the growing trend of specialty retailers entering the back-to-school market, what this means for sales and how it could potentially impact brick-and-mortar stores.
Today, specialty retailers are joining mass merchants and apparel retailers in the back-to-school pool. While the degree to which they have done so successfully is up for debate — and the quality of execution varies significantly from one brand to the next — it’s an unmistakable trend. I think what’s happening is that many specialty retailers have concluded that they need to come up with their own back-to-school angle if they are going to tap into the annual late-summer/early-fall shopping frenzy. For the average family, that commercial activity is no small expense: the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reports that “the average household expenditure on all types of back-to-school items is expected to be about $285 this year,” with 84% of consumers planning to spend the same or more than they did last year.
Check out the full article from my recurring column, Retail Rap, at Chain Store Age.