Has Prime Day become America’s cue to shop for back-to-school?

Discussion
Jul 17, 2019
George Anderson

Many consumers go looking for back-to-school deals on Amazon.com for Prime Day. Many others click to rival sites for the same purpose. For a growing number of parents and students, these activities represent the start of their journey to stock up on supplies before the new school year begins.

USA Today published an article yesterday from Reviewed.com that highlighted the five best deals on Amazon for back-to-school: a BIC mechanical pencil, an Echo Dot, an Acer Chromebook, a rapid egg cooker and an external hard drive. Promotional emails from other retailers appearing in consumers’ in-boxes in recent days have listed deals on items specifically for students returning to school.

Research published by RetailMeNot found that 64 percent of parents planned to shop during the Prime Day event, expecting to wrap up 35 percent of their shopping for back-to-school. Prime Day, according to the survey of 1,000 adults, is the number one shopping period for back-to-school, followed by the first weekend in August and Labor Day weekend.

When all is said and done, this year’s back-to-school shopping season promises to be a record breaker for retail. Newly released research from the National Retail Federation (NRF) projects total spending for back-to-school and back-to-college reaching $80.7 billion this year.

Families with kids in elementary and high school are forecast to spend a record average of $696.70, up from $684.79 in 2018. Those households with kids going to college plan to spend $976.78, also a record, up from $942.17 last year.

NRF’s research also points to Prime Day as a symbolic kicking off point for many consumers shopping for school supplies. Fifty-nine percent planned to shop on Amazon for this purpose, 26 percent planned to shop on other sites and 23 percent planned to go to stores in search of deals.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Has Prime Day become America’s cue to shop for back-to-school? If yes, what will this mean for retailers looking to break through Amazon’s noise in coming years?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I have no doubt that the traditional back-to-school shopping season has moved to July with Prime Day."
"...all of retail now has a big event in the middle of a perennial dead period. Hats off to the 900-pound gorilla. Now can you guys fix January?"
"Like it or not, retailers will be sharpening their pencils each July, but may sell more of them piggy-backing on Amazon’s timing!"

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7 Comments on "Has Prime Day become America’s cue to shop for back-to-school?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

The timing of Prime Day nicely coincides with an early start on back-to-school shopping, so I think it is becoming a cue, whether Amazon planned it this way or not. Back-to-school is an important shopping season for many consumers and retailers. The timing of Amazon Prime Days means that these retailers will need to start their back-to-school efforts sooner to ensure they don’t miss out on the market timing created by Amazon.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

As we’ve now seen reports that nearly 300 retailers joined the “Prime Day fun” by offering special deals this year, I have no doubt that the traditional back-to-school shopping season has moved to July with Prime Day. In fact, I’m curious to see sales data to understand if much of what used to be August back-to-school sales have now shifted to July vs. July introducing a net uplift in total sales. I know many teachers (and parents) who anticipated finding many items during Prime Day on Amazon as well as at other retailers, so there is something to be said for Amazon lifting the industry’s sales in July with their event. More than ever, retail sales are being driven by extreme discounting (or the perception thereof by consumers) during holiday and other “special” event days like Prime Day and the real impact of this has yet to be quantified in terms of how training consumers to wait for these special discounts has impacted sales through the rest of the year.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Prime Day has become a major shopping event for back-to-school, Christmas and any other reason someone can find to buy things in July. Major retailers are already looking to compete with Amazon during this time of year and that alone is driving the purchasing frenzy to new levels. We can look forward to this becoming even more entrenched in the American retailer’s calendar as Prime Day will become a full national retail shopping day.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

To me, it’s just mind blowing the way Amazon created an “event” day in the middle of the summer. Retail has been a huge part of the American economy for what, 150 years? And no one came up with anything like this for those “beach ball days” of summer sales and low profits. Whether it kicks off BTS or is just an excuse to purchase at a great price, all of retail now has a big event in the middle of a perennial dead period. Hats off to the 900-pound gorilla. Now can you guys fix January?

Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust

Amazon’s Prime Day is now the official starting gun for BTS, but not just for consumers. Like it or not, retailers will be sharpening their pencils each July, but may sell more of them piggy-backing on Amazon’s timing!

James Tenser
BrainTrust

Yes Prime Day seems to have become a BTS trigger, but not all by itself. In a visit to Walmart over the weekend I encountered large displays of school merchandise. (Timing is not unusual here in Arizona, where the new school year begins in mid-August.)

Bob Andersen
Guest

“Back to College” is better described as “Off to College.” The majority of large purchases happen as students enter college: laptop, TV, microwave, mini-fridge, router, etc. Offering a bundle deal on these items might be smart Prime Day play.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I have no doubt that the traditional back-to-school shopping season has moved to July with Prime Day."
"...all of retail now has a big event in the middle of a perennial dead period. Hats off to the 900-pound gorilla. Now can you guys fix January?"
"Like it or not, retailers will be sharpening their pencils each July, but may sell more of them piggy-backing on Amazon’s timing!"

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