Tags: School | shopping | sales | economy

NYT: Economy Is Changing the Nature of Back-to-School Shopping

Monday, 27 August 2012 10:28 AM

U.S. consumers are putting off back-to-school shopping until after school starts to wait for sales and save as much as possible, The New York Times reported.

On top of a sluggish economy, hot weather is also prompting consumers to hold off until after school starts, as is the desire to get the latest trends correct.

Charles M. Holley Jr., chief financial officer of Wal-Mart, said stores were seeing customers “wait until school starts, and they don’t buy things until they absolutely have to,” according to The Times.

Editor's Note: Economist Warns: 50% Unemployment, 100% Inflation Possible

Consumers are even looking for bargains on pens and pencils.

“People are waiting for deals to occur,” Office Depot’s retail head Juan Guerrero told the newspaper.

A National Retail Federation survey of consumers with school-age children found that less than 8 percent completed their back-to-school shopping in August, the lowest figure in four years, The Times added.

Some retailers are rethinking the timing of when the newest styles go up in stores.

“The post-back-to-school numbers are up, and the pre-back-to-school numbers are down a little bit,” said Lisa Harper, chief executive of Hot Topic, the Times added.

“Next year, we’ll probably delay.”

Some blame hot weather and the early arrival of winter-weather clothing for the reason shoppers are putting off back-to-school shopping.

John D. Morris, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets, pointed out that winter apparel hit the stands at retailer Abercrombie & Fitch and helped send sales falling, with same-store sales falling 10 percent in the second quarter that ended July 28.

“Abercrombie in July was flowing in heavier-weight goods — down vests when it’s 95 degrees out, sweaters, outerwear, jackets,” Morris said.

Retail sales, however, are showing signs of life, surprising on the upside in July.

Sales rose 0.8 percent in July, the largest gain since February, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

“Here comes the U.S. consumer,” said Harm Bandholz, an economist at UniCredit in New York, according to Reuters.

Consumer spending drives roughly 70 percent of the U.S. economy.

Editor's Note: Economist Warns: 50% Unemployment, 100% Inflation Possible

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Monday, 27 August 2012 10:28 AM
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