By Maria Valdez Haubrich
Summer may still be in full swing, but for retailers targeting children, teens and college students, it’s not too early to start thinking about back-to-school. Year-round school schedules in much of the country mean many school districts start schedules in August. And millions of bargain-hungry parents are already plotting their budgets for the back-to-school spending spree.
The National Retail Federation recently shared some predictions for this season’s back-to-school spending, which accounts for an average of $603 per family. With back-to-school encompassing everything from shoes and apparel to school supplies and electronic devices, many retailers stand to gain.
But will consumers spend more or less this year? In NRF’s latest survey conducted by BIGinsight, 80.4 percent of people with school-aged children report the economy is affecting their back-to-school budgets. While high, that number is still a slight improvement from the 86.1 percent who said the economy was crimping their back-to-school style next year.
Pent-up demand seems to be playing a role. BIGinsight found consumers were slightly less likely than last year to say they are setting a lower budget or plan to make do with last year’s items. However, they are more likely than last year to use coupons, comparison shop online before making a purchase, or shop online in general.
One interesting side note: More parents are cutting back on extracurricular activities for their kids. Nearly 15 percent—the highest number in the survey’s history—plan to reduce extracurricular activities due to the economy, compared to about 10 percent last year.
What do these stats mean for your business, and how can you capture precious back-to-school dollars?
- Increase your online presence. Even if you don’t sell products online, use local search marketing to make sure consumers find your store when they search for the back-to-school items you sell.
- Offer deals and specials. Parents are bargain-conscious and will shop where they can get the best deals. Coupons, two-for-one offers and other discounts will lure them in.
- Use social media. Moms are social media mavens, so connect with them on Facebook or Twitter to let them know about your back-to-school offerings.
- Start now. It’s never too early for parents to start saving on back-to-school stuff (even if kids don’t want to think about it yet).
Image by Flickr user KB35 (Creative Commons)