Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back to School in July?

Has Target missed the mark or are other retailers selling back-to-school supplies as well? At my local Target, the school supplies went up right before the 4th of July and the aisles remain fully stocked and ready for all of the kids. Problem is, it is still summer! Who really wants to buy pencils, notebooks, and folders when it's hot and sunny outside? Judging from the lack of shoppers in the backpack aisle today, not many people are ready to push this season and get a jump on the back-to-school buying frenzy.

I could imagine lots of better ways to spend a glorious Sunday afternoon rather than stocking up on folders and crayons. Although I will admit that I was surprised to see one woman who actually had a school supply list and pen in hand, checking off items as she loaded up her cart. But it was just her and not her kids. Hopefully her kids were out tubing on the lake or hanging out at the beach.

Target must think this rush on the school season is a good idea because they are backing it up with a barrage of witty school supply TV commercials and colorful Sunday flyers. If any of my readers work for Target, please enlighten me about this marketing tactic and if it actually works.

Does a July back-to-school binge shopping trip mean that all of the supplies will be in short supply when I return in early August from vacation? Maybe when I'm actually ready to buy school supplies in the end of August, Target will have cleared them away to make room for the Halloween costumes and candy. I think retailers should let kids (and their parents) actually savor the school-free summer months instead of urging shoppers to stock up on school supplies nearly two months before school even begins.


Sue said...

You and I think so alike - I like you, decided not to purchase school supplies until we got home in mid-August (this was during one of the early years of us being here) so I learned my lesson. Literally the stocks were depleted so badly I think I had to go to Target, Office Max (Depot) and Walmart (argh I cringe at the thought - have you ever noticed a strange unfriendly smell in Walmart stores) - can't stand shopping in that store.

But yes, I have learned that you do need to purchase earlier than later in order to get the colors and styles your children would prefer!! However, for the price of a mental break from school go ahead and enjoy your summer binges and just put up with whatever is left.

Thanks for the post!

Tim Boock said...

You asked for a Target employee to explain, sis, so here you go.

It is one of the most competitive times of year for big retailers. They know consumers are on budgets, and they're vying for those dollars. A survey from BigInsight found that 37% of respondents expected to cut back-to-school spending this year because of the U.S. economy. In 2009, during the recession, 50% said they'd spend less overall.

Back-to-school and back-to-college spending accounts for $84 billion in sales, making it the second-biggest season for retailers. Though that's a far cry from the winter holidays' $580 billion take, it handily exceeds Mother's Day, which is the next-biggest holiday-shopping period, with $21 billion in consumer spending.

In the wake of the recession, more consumers are attempting to space out expenditures. They shop early during the winter holidays. Then there's a lull, followed by a big push as Christmas approaches and discounts peak. The same pattern could begin playing out during back-to-school, with some shoppers stocking up early but leaving apparel purchases and specific classroom requests for later.

Hope that helps.


Christianna said...

Thanks Tim! I knew that Target would have a logical, market-driven explanation for the school supply push. But doesn't it sort of make you miss those days of grabbing your school supplies at Shopko the weekend before school started?

Darcy said...

The reason you may see some people shopping for school supplies without children is because many of us, who no longer need to buy school supplies, are purchasing them for children in need. Our community has a school give-away in two weeks to help provide these much needed and costly supplies to families who greatly benefit from the help. I am happy to see the school supply adds from Target, Shopko, etc. in the papers now, so I know where to go to get the best sales. That way I can help as many children as I can.

Sue said...

I actually think we all know that this is sort of the case but what we are saying as consumers is that we really would like the Corporate to just be less vying for the competition and give us a break but we all know this will never happen.

I think someone told me just yesterday that did they even see something to do with Christmas in Target or a large retail store - seriously I often wonder if Hallmark and the retailers make up all these holidays so we all go out and spend money. Take a moment and think about it: if we did not have all the holidays marketed the way they are with cards and nick nacks such as Easter bunny candle holders etc and carrot placemats, all these retailers would go out of business. However, I do love all the holidays but what else would we spend the money on frivolously. Valentines Day, St Patricks Day, Cinqo de Mayo, Easter, Thanksgiving, 4th July, Mothers and Fathers Day (no wonder they now have Grandma and Grandpa Day - I bet they even have Hug your Pet Day cards in there somewhere). Now I have to say I love all these Holidays but I think you get the picture! I think my biggest thing is the companies are just trying to make sure they don't miss out on the competitive edge and that as a consumer is annoying!

Thanks for the explanation from the Corporate side of things.

Anonymous said...

Unless you work for a non-profit, it's all about the money. Even then it's about donations and who can give money to support your cause, like it or not the push to get your money is here to stay.

On a separate note I was one of the first people at Target with my list in hand with my daugther who was so excited that school supplies were in stores. Everything we needed was there and now we don't have to worry about a thing! It's different for everyone and I get that, but to me I don't mind, especially if it makes my daughter excited for school. Plus I am a Target supporter for obvious reasons! :)

Anonymous said...

Having taught & raised children in three provinces of Canada the experience here is "No school supplies purchased by families." Therefore there is no published list of materials to be purchased. Each board provides the desk supplies needed for the year. This eliminates the kid with the 1001 pencil crayons. It's a great policy for families and for teachers.

Anonymous said...

Hoorah for the last comment. Perfectly said - let the school system have everything they need like they did in the old days!