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NRF: BTS shoppers this year focused on value, will make purchases later

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — Expect flat back-to-school sales this year as parents continue to be cautious with their spending, the National Retail Federation found in its latest survey.

In its back-to-school survey, conducted by BIGresearch, NRF found that consumers are purchasing more store-brand or generic items (39.9%), comparison shopping more online (29.8%) and shopping for sales (50%). Additionally, nearly half of survey respondents said the economy is forcing them to simply spend less in general (43.7%).

Breaking down where BTS shopping budgets are being spent: Average spending on clothing ($220.60) and school supplies ($88.99) will slightly decrease this year, while families also will spend an average of $104.53 on shoes, a slight increase over last year.

As for where families will be shopping, NRF found that this year’s go-to destination will be department stores, with 57% of shoppers saying that they will head to a department store, up from 53.9% last year, and the most in the survey’s eight-year history. Though the majority of back-to-school shoppers planned to make at least one purchase from a discount store (68.4%), clothing (48.7%), office supply (38%) and electronics stores (21.7%) also will be popular.

Additionally, more people this year will shop online (31.7% versus 30.8% last year) and in drug stores (21.1% versus 19.5% last year).

NRF added that survey results indicated that most families will do their back-to-school shopping closer to the start of the school year. While most families will begin shopping three weeks to one month before school starts (42.4%), nearly one-third (31.2%) will begin their shopping one to two weeks before school starts — up from one-quarter (24.8%) last year. Some will get a jump start and begin shopping two months before the new school year (21.8%), and the remainder will shop the week school starts (2%) or after school starts (2.6%).

“Families aren’t opposed to spending on what they need, but parents want their children to take a good look around at what they already have before deciding what to buy for back to school this year,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers understand consumers are extremely focused on value and are taking this opportunity to offer substantial savings on merchandise.”

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Walmart, Nielsen enter cooperation agreement

BY Allison Cerra

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — Walmart has returned to the consumer packaged goods industry’s information sharing model through a new cooperation agreement with Nielsen.

With this new partnership, Walmart (including its Neighborhood Market stores) and Sam’s Club will be provided with better insight on consumers’ purchasing habits, Nielsen said. Additionally, Nielsen will help Walmart and Sam’s Club reports incorporate their retail sales information over the next several months to provide better and more accurate sales coverage for all participating retailers and manufacturers, providing improved insights into sales volumes, pricing, merchandising and promotions, Nielsen added.

“Nielsen is thrilled to expand our relationship with Walmart, adding to the momentum we’ve established with their sister company, Sam’s Club,” said John Lewis, North America consumer president and CEO at Nielsen. “We believe that Walmart’s participation in the information-sharing model reinforces the importance of business information and analytics in today’s retail climate. Nielsen is confident that both retailers and consumer goods manufacturers will benefit significantly from greater accuracy of information on what consumers buy.”

Added Walmart EVP global customer insights Cindy Davis, “This expanded relationship with Nielsen will provide Walmart and Sam’s Club with deeper insights into customer purchasing — and unmet needs — both nationally and in key local markets. We plan to share our point-of-sale information to help us identify category growth opportunities sooner and collaborate with our manufacturer partners to develop more impactful customer-driven programs going forward.”

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Arm & Hammer’s new laundry detergent caters to sensitive skin sufferers

BY Allison Cerra

PRINCETON, N.J. — Arm & Hammer is answering the pleas of sensitive skin sufferers by rolling out a new laundry detergent that provides deep cleaning and freshness to clothes.

New Arm & Hammer sensitive skin plus scent is hypoallergenic and delivers deep cleaning and deodorizing, while featuring a fresh scent, the company said. The product joins the brand’s perfume- and dye-free laundry detergent. Both variants are compatible in high-efficiency machines and standard washing machines.

Arm & Hammer sensitive skin laundry products now are available at retailers nationwide in 50-oz., 68.75-oz. and 150-oz. sizes. The suggested retail price ranges from $4.99 to $9.99.

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