It used to be that the first day of school saw students decked out in new togs and backpack’s well stocked with new school supplies. That paradigm is shifting and it’s throwing a kink in many retailers’ plans.
Kids are now going to school first, then buying supplies. In a consumer-spending driven economy, a slow start to the school year from a purchasing perspective may become an added factor in the slow recovery.
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Postponed spending makes it more difficult for stores to stock items and to promote back-to-school items that have been inventoried for a couple of months now. The back-to-school retail season is second only to the holiday season as an annual portion of sales.
Items popular for the back-to-school season also tend to influence the items that will be popular over the holidays.
The National Retail Federation said that less than 8% of school-aged children had completed their back-to-school shopping in the month of August. That’s the lowest figure in four years.
Some schools are also starting later than usual. Trends in back-to-school items are also more definitive and could possibly be causing purchases to be delayed
to make sure kids are buying the trendiest items.
Older students especially seem to be waiting until after Labor Day to do their shopping so they will be able to see what their friends are wearing for the new school year.
Many are waiting until after school starts and not buying anything until they absolutely have to. Students are even waiting to buy items like pens and notebooks, not just clothing. This year’s back-to-school season had been expected to be one of the strongest since before the recession.