With American consumer confidence seemingly stuck in neutral, the back to school season can be an insightful view into the state of consumer spending, as well as a precursor to what retailers can expect for the upcoming holiday season. The Nielsen Company forecasts a modest increase in dollar sales on Back to School items, up 1.7 percent to $2.6 billion, although unit sales are projected to drop.
“Unlike the holiday season, many consumers view back to school shopping as required versus discretionary purchases,” said James Russo, vice president, Global Consumer Insights, The Nielsen Company. “Kids need back to school supplies as they start the school year. That said we see an extremely modest sales increase for this year’s Back to School season. While more U.S. consumers feel the country is coming out of the recession, they still feel the weight of a stubbornly weak labor market. Look for consumers to spend their money carefully and focus on purchasing the essentials.”
Back to school study guide:
“Back to School prices are up this year,” said Russo. “With consumers applying more pressure for lower prices and promotions on basic consumable items, retailers are looking to make up margins in seasonal categories. Those retailers offering strong discounts and appealing to consumers’ desire for savings and value will be this year’s Back to School winners.”
About the Nielsen Back to School Forecast
Nielsen’s Forecast is based on office and school supplies, including office, school, artist/hobby supplies, scissors, tape and glue purchases in U.S. food, drug, mass merchandiser stores (including Walmart), dollar, club stores and online sales for July – September 2010. Nielsen’s research is based on more than 110,000 UPCs in the school supply category, and more than 400 million school supply transactions.