A few retailers were so eager to launch their back-to-school sales this year they started in early July — they probably would have started even sooner if the last school year weren't still in session. The back-to-school shopping season is that important to the retail industry. It's second only to the holiday season in total sales, and last year Americans spent $54.1 billion on back-to-school-related items, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
This year, however, parents are going back-to-school shopping for the first time since the recession struck. They're facing its lingering impact and almost double-digit unemployment, and, unlike last year, they will shop without a stimulus check to assist them. As a result, back-to-school spending is expected to drop this year to $47.5 billion, according to an NRF survey.
Consumers this back-to-school season will be comparison shopping and discount hunting like never before. Retailers can counter this price-focused approach with several strategies of their own to drive store traffic and foster sales as the season progresses.
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