The Girls Put Off Shopping for School
The girls, or “Eight Wonders of the World,” as I sometimes refer to them, went shopping this weekend.
The girls in question include my daughter and seven of her closest friends (ages 13 and 14). Off they went (they always travel in packs) on what seems to be their weekly shopping trip, although I’m told by adult female sources that it is actually less frequent than that.
Anyway, following the excursion, the girls reconvened at our “way too small” house in Cranford, New Jersey to review their purchases. There were bathing suits, shorts, and various other items that seemed just perfect for, well, now.
I asked why they hadn’t spent any of their hard-earned money and gift cards (after all, birthdays and other gift giving holidays only come around once a year) on clothes or other items for back-to-school?
One particularly sophisticated consumer said, “Mr. Anderson, there are great deals on this stuff (summer items) now. All we need for school is a new outfit for the first couple of days. We can get other stuff after that because there will be more sales.”
Another chimed in, “A lot of the school stuff can be worn when the weather gets colder. We won’t need that when school starts. My mom will buy me binders and other stuff I definitely need for school.”
There it was, right out of the mouths of babes, so to speak. These kids, just as many other consumers, have gotten it in their minds that it makes sense to make purchases when it fits their schedule and not one determined by retailers.
The phenomenon, which has become particularly prevalent right after the Christmas holiday, may be spreading to the back-to-school season if the “Eight Wonders of the World” are any indication.
A study by The NPD Group doesn’t back that hypothesis up, but it does show that some consumers are delaying purchases for back-to-school.
Last year, according to NPD, 43 percent of shoppers had begun buying for back-to-school before August 1. This year, that number has dropped three points to 40 percent.
NPD chief industry analyst Marshal Cohen told Reuters the lack of early season traffic is because “[t]here are no must-have items this season. Nothing is really incentivizing the consumer to say ‘I need to start shopping now’.”
Mr. Cohen said retailers should not expect a blockbuster back-to-school season this year.
“When you take the fact that there’s no rush to the store and when you take the fact that the wallet is a little bit skimpier than it was last year … I say we’re going to see stability, we’re not going to see growth,” in sales, he said.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) has predicted significant growth in back-to-school sales this year. According to a study conducted by BIGresearch for the association, spending will jump for the average household with kids going back-to-school from $443.7 in 2005 to $527.08, this year. Total spending for the season is expected to climb to $17.6 billion versus $13.4 billion in 2005.
Discussion Questions: What do you see as the factors behind consumers putting off back-to-school purchases this year?
Do you see a similar pattern to what is happening around the Christmas holiday season?
It should be noted that the individual members of the “Eight Wonders of the World” may not necessarily plan on spending more of their parent’s money on
back-to-school items this year, they do believe they can get more “stuff” by shopping for the best deals beginning the weekend after. (I won’t be driving that weekend.)
delay back-to-school shopping survey – Reuters
and Apparel to Fuel Back-to-School Spending, According to Latest NRF Survey – National Retail Federation