Back in early August, I remember seeing an article from Marketing Daily which indicated the back-to-school shopping season had been slow to get started (click here to read the story). It seemed that many consumers were waiting for the all-important “list” provided by many teachers, explaining what incoming students would need to the year. Even through the Labor Day weekend, though, the BTS shopping season was looking a little weak, according to a story that was in Saturday’s New York Times (click here for a link to the piece).
Implications: If you sell clothing or pencils, you probably felt like the back-to-school season was a bit soft this year, at least in comparison to expectations. Compared to 2009, this year was supposed to be better. But before heading to the mall for blue jeans and notebook paper, it seems that students and parents stopped first in their closets, to see what might still fit and function without buying more of the goods which traditionally sell well this time of year.
In contrast to this fiscal conservatism, though, remember that there was some very strong spending on personal electronics this year; items the student did not have last year, and the parent could justify this year. (I wrote about this back on August 5, in another posting at ElmStreetTrends.com; click here to see that piece.)
Many people may have cut back in some areas, but it seems that many others ratcheted-up their spending in other areas. Worth noting: This season’s spending was a matter of shifting priorities, not just reduced spending.
ALSO WORTH CONSIDERING: Maybe the back to school season is not over. Perhaps parents (and students) will be buying supplies along the way, throughout the school year. Could it be that, instead of a "stock-up" mentality, consumers are switching to a "just in time" or, "buy as needed to even-out the pain" purchasing plan?