Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Back to back-to-school


kids.jpgCheck out a new survey on back-to-school shopping.
More than one-third of consumers plan to spend less when they shop for school this year, according to a survey by market research firm NPD Group.

Okay, many consumers may have already started, or even finished, their back-to-school shopping. And several back-to-school surveys came out last month from the likes of the National Retail Federation and consulting firm Deloitte that also showed signs consumers were cutting back.
(Actually, NRF broke its survey into two and showed that college kids were cutting back, but that younger students and their parents were planning to spend more. But that’s another story.)
NPD’s Marshal Cohen said the NPD survey is more current and is taken closer to when consumes will actually shop for school.
“On a good year, 25 percent start (shopping) and none have finished at the end of July,” Cohen said. He also noted that consumers have pushed the back-to-school season further and further back, waiting until the weather cools before buying apparel.
So, in this latest survey, NPD shows 35 percent of those surveyed plan to spend less on back to school and 34 percent plan to spend the same as in 2007.
Most plan to shop at discounters, but that percentage dropped to 81 percent from 84 percent. Office supply retailers continue to show more popularity, with 45 percent of those surveyed planning to shop at the Office Depots and Staples of the world, up from 43 percent in 2007.
Footwear stores fell 5 percentage points to 22 percent of consumers saying they were likely to shop at those outlets, with apparel stores down to 16 percent from 20 percent in 2007.
And that old backpack might just have to make it through another year. Only 33 percent of those surveyed plan to buy new school bags, down from 45 percent a year earlier.
According to Standard & Poor’s, which put out its own back-to-school study on Wednesday, about 75 percent of back to school spending occurs in the four weeks leading up to the first day of school, or during August. But many high school and college students wait until school starts before buying clothes so that they can see what is cool first, S&P said.
Also in the basket:
Wal-Mart profit up 17 percent, says consumers pressured
July CPI rise higher than forecast
Borders larger rival unlikely to make a bid (WSJ, subscription required)

(Photo: Reuters)

Wake up! It’s Hannah calling!


hannah.jpgAs retailers look for ever-cleverer ways to spur sales, Wal-Mart has teamed with Disney to offer free wake-up calls from Hannah Montana, (a.k.a. Miley Cyrus), as part of its back-to-school marketing push. 

How can a wake-up call spur sales?

Well, not only are parents given the option to sign up to send their child a wake-up call, they can also send their child a reminder that it is time to do some back-to-school shopping.

Check Out Line: How oil prices and consumers influence earnings


consumer.jpgCheck Out how the spiking price of oil and lifeless consumer spending are affecting more consumer companies.

Supervalu, whose chains include Albertsons and Save-A-Lot, didn’t see any increase in its total quarterly sales. Its food sales were actually down 0.7 percent, but the company saved itself in part with lower expenses, and reported a higher quarterly profit.

Check out line: School daze


books.jpgCheck out the back-to-school blues.
Nope, it’s not just kids who are likely to find going back to school depressing. Retailers are also likely to find the back-to-school season tough to take.
In a new survey by Deloitte, 71 percent of of respondents said they plan to spend less on back-to-school items this year. In fact, almost half plan to reduce their household spending by more than $100.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Higher gas and food prices continue to pressure consumers, Deloitte’s U.S. Retail leader Stacy Janiak said in a news release.
“Retailers should focus on areas that will contribute to profitable growth, such as adapting their merchandising and promotional activities to increase loyalty among existing customers and attract new customers,” she said.
Among survey findings: 79 percent will buy more back-to-school items on sale, 68 percent will buy more lower-priced items and 46 percent will shop at different — or less expensive — stores than usual.
Also in the basket:
Hasbro profit tops view, costs remain challenging
Crisis at Mervyns: Credit concerns mount over economic woes (WWD)

(Photo: Reuters)