Back-to-school is a busy time for retailers whether you sell pencils and notebooks, clothing, laptops, or mini fridges. This year’s back to school shopping may hold some good news for retailers this year, after a a drop in spending for back-to-school shopping in 2013, the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicted that although customers continue to be practical and mindful of cost, 79% plan to spend the same or more in 2014 than 2013.
We examined all of the NRF’s back-to-school surveys and developed 3 insights to help you plan for a successful back-to-school shopping season for your store.
Plan for the Long Haul, but August is Still Your Sweet Spot
Where you once didn’t see Back-to-School Sales until August, large retailers like Walmart and Office Max have begun to roll out sales prior to Independence Day in recent years. Target has even gone so far as to create a “Black Friday in July” to boost Back-to-School sales. This may be driven by the National Retail Federation’s findings that 24% of customers report that they begin shopping at least two months before school starts. However, the NRF also discovered that 84% of shoppers have not completed their back to school shopping by August and of those, 21% don’t even begin back-to-school shopping until August. So, while you may want to have back-to-school supplies available earlier in the summer, your inventory should be most heavily stocked in August.
Promotions are an Effective Back-to-School Sales Tactic
According to NRF, only 11% of customers say that they are not swayed by back-to-school promotions, which means 89% could be swayed to buy if they see a great promotion. Keep this in mind when you are promoting your fall sales.
Coupons are the Strongest Promotional Influencer
Consider offering coupons and in-store promotions for back-to-school shopping this year. According to NRF’s August 2013 survey, coupons were the most influential media, followed by Newspaper FSIs and ROP. The good news is that coupons and newspaper advertising can be implemented in a relatively short timeline, so if you haven’t created a promotional plan yet, there is still time!
Using these analytic insights from the National Retail Federation, you should be able to better plan your buying cycle, in-store merchandising, and promotional strategy to increase your sales and take advantage of this year’s increased customer sales prediction. Good luck!