Retailers Get Schooled on Consumer Shopping Behavior

Jul 07, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The back-to-school selling period used to be a virtual guarantee of a spike
in retail sales, but not anymore.

Consumers are putting off purchases, especially in categories such as apparel,
to take advantage of markdowns. Todd Slater, an analyst with Lazard Freres told
Reuters, “Do you need to buy a sweater in July or August? People continue
to put off much of their back-to-school shopping until later in the season,
when they can buy them much more cheaply.”

Moderator’s Comment: Can retailers change consumers’
purchasing behavior to get them to shop earlier in seasonal sales periods such
as back-to-school? If yes, how? If not, what should retailers be doing differently?

If you’re looking for examples of counterintuitive
behavior, look no further than the retail industry. The response of most to
consumers postponing purchases is to start the seasonal selling periods earlier
than ever before.
Anderson – Moderator

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