US consumer electronics giant Apple is depending on its back-to-school gift card system that allows US$100 off an Apple computer and US$50 off the purchase price of an iPad to keep sales to students flowing during the crucial season leading into September.
Walmart is expecting many students to fall for its budget school supplies offers compared to more expensive stationery stores.
Other retailers are tempted to target teachers rather than students, with news that teachers often buy items like tissues and hand sanitisers for their classrooms.
Still other producers and importers are putting renewed faith in online sales channels and cut-price strategies.
The strength of such campaigns is all important, given the relative weakness of consumer sectors over recent months.
Fortunately, retailers are said to be importing products at an encouraging rate through the present back-to-school season.
Market researchers expect substantial upticks in finished goods for the months of August, September and October.
Coincidentally, it is during these three months that retailers do the majority of importing products for the Holiday season at the end of the year.
August imports are projected by the National Retail Federation (NRF) to be 6.3% higher than the same month last year, while September is projected for an increase of 7.3% and October for a 13.2% increase. This shows an average increase for the three months of 8.9% compared to 2011.
The NRF’s Global Port Tracker Report also forecasts imports to increase for November and December, up 2.4% from the prior Holiday season.
However, the October sales figure is only due to the unseasonably low sales recorded in the same month last year, reports the NRF. Numbers used to calculate projections are based on the amount of cargo containers shipped, not the value of the merchandise.
For the benefit of Hong Kong exporters, historical reports suggest that electronics and toys will top the list for the coming sales seasons.
Internet preferred for back-to-school shopping
The US has seen slightly increasing year-over-year retail sales for the past 23 consecutive months, but the reports are shown against an uneasy background of high unemployment figures. So consumers have generally favoured saving over spending.
It’s no surprise that many students are opting to do their school shopping online where they are more likely to find more competitive prices and convenience compared to the brick-and-mortar experience.
Some 31% of households with children in grades K-12 will do more online shopping this year, a jump from 29.8% last year.
About 14% of families plan to reduce extracurricular activities, up from 10.2% in 2011. Additionally, 40.3% of families plan to buy store brand and generic products, up from 39.9% last year.
But mid-priced retailers exceeded analysts’ projections. Limited Brands, headquartered in Ohio, reported an impressive12% same-store increase over 2011. Other retailers to show big gains included Target and Macy’s, mainly relying on reduced prices and promotion on the Internet.
from Michelle Gaynes, Chicago Office
|Limited Brands||Tel: (1) 614-415-7000
|National Retail Federation (NRF)||Tel: (1) 202-783-7971
Fax: (1) 202-737-2849