Is it back to school time already? Just when you are finally adjusting to the summer heat and longer daylight; the commercials, advertisements and new store displays bombard you. Who hasn’t seen the chalkboard or book bag promo? Even the “sale” conservative brand Apple has a back to school campaign where they are giving away gift cards with a purchase. Teen Vogue has declared Back to School Saturday a holiday on August 10, 2013. And that can only indicate one thing, its back to school time already.
For many families, this means buying all new things for your children’s new school year. But are we spending less this year on back to school items? It depends. It will vary based on the size of your family, where you live, and even how old your children are. And back to school shopping isn’t just for families with kids anymore.
Tax free holidays vary from state to state, and the items that are included. It is not just for clothing and school supplies, but also includes electronics, sports equipment, hurricane preparedness items, and even energy star products. All types of consumers are reached by this, those who are either in the market for specific items, or are speeding up the process of buying with these promotions and offers. It is not necessarily just the parents shopping for the kid’s new school year. It is also the consumer looking for a new electronic device or even just some new jeans.
The Back to School shopping season is second only to holiday shopping. This year’s sales are expected to total $635 for the average family with school-age children, down from last year’s $689, according to the National Retail Federation.
As for those families, like me, with kids going back to school, the research says we may be spending less this year. I can be a survey of one and attest to the fact that my back to school spending was in fact lower this year than last year’s. Although, I did take advantage of the tax free weekend in Florida, it was not entirely for back to school supplies. There are so many retailers in the clothing, shoes, accessories and pretty much any industry that are bringing out the fall lines and getting rid of summer, that it is hard to turn down.
There is a constant battle between the consumer to spend less, save and the retailers to promote and sell. This may be due to the constant barrage of sales and end of summer advertisements, or just the need for a few pieces in between seasons. Whatever the reason, overall as consumers we are being much more conscientious of our spending and timing our purchases to align with sales and discounts. The consumer is becoming savvier and taking advantage of the digital world with things like mobile coupons.
This may be the reason for these declines in sales as well. Not only are we conscientious about overspending and acquiring too many things, there may be a shift in our culture to live simpler, less cluttered lives. According to the Nielsen 2012 Consumer Confidence Series, consumers are proceeding with caution in 2013 and showed renewed discretionary spending restraint.
Also, more popular this summer, and maybe for previous summers before it had a name, the staycation. With cost of travel and gas prices soaring, many people opted to stay home or enjoy local outings on their downtime.
All of these may be signs of times to come for us as consumers, since we are connected to so much information and make much more informed decisions on what and where we spend our discretionary money. It will be interesting to see what happens this holiday season; since we all know after the back to school promos come the holidays!
By Jessica Castro, Manager Marketing Research and Hispanic Focus Group Moderator at Mindspot Research