Grading Back to School: The Truth About Spending + Shaq Helps Kids Get Equipped

Each week this summer, FN will offer a roundup of essential news, data and analysis about the important back-to-school (BTS) selling season.

1. Spending Will Be Up — Maybe?

As with most efforts to foretell the future, predictions about overall BTS spending vary depending on who you’re talking to. An early report from Deloitte forecast a slight increase in the total spend for the season, to $27.8 billion, up from $27.6 billion the previous year. However, the National Retail Federation was more skeptical in its outlook. Its research (conducted with Prosper Analytics) suggests that families with kids age K-12 will spend less overall this year — about $26.2 billion — despite the fact that per-family spending will likely rise to a record level of $696.70, up from $684.79 last year. But before you cite claims of a retail apocalypse, NRF explains that the drop in total expenditures is tied to the fact that fewer families surveyed had children in grades K-12.

2. The Payless Effect

One question lingering over the BTS season is where former Payless shoppers will be spending their money this time. It’s a significant question, considering that the discount retailer had 7 percent of kids’ footwear unit sales in 2018, according to The NPD Group Inc. For this season, NPD predicts that big-box chains like Walmart, Target and Kohl’s will be the most likely recipients of those dollars. However, other companies hope to benefit as well: In its Q2 earnings call this week, Skechers execs predicted it would pick up some new BTS customers following the Payless liquidation.

3. BTS Is Just the Beginning

It’s hard to imagine, what with the temperatures in the 90s this week, but back-to-school is a gateway to holiday shopping. Kohl’s reinforced that fact this week with an announcement that it is kicking off its seasonal hiring now to staff up for BTS — and Black Friday. And a recent report from Cardlytics, a data firm that works with banking companies, found that retail customers who were acquired during the fall season spend 20% more during the holidays (an average of $163), compared with customers acquired during the holidays ($132 on average).

4. The Spirit of Giving Lives On

Retailers and brands are keeping less-fortunate kids in mind this school season and helping to make sure they have the supplies they need for a strong start to the year. On July 14, Bearpaw partnered again with the Ticket to Dream Foundation for its Back to School Bash, which hosts more than 100 foster kids from the Sacramento, Calif., area, who have the chance to take home Bearpaw boots, backpacks and plenty of school supplies. Meanwhile, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal has teamed up with and Amazon to expand his Shaq-to-School initiative. This year, it includes a multi-city distribution for his Shaq-Packs, which include school supplies, a backpack, shoes, and a t-shirt or hoodie, to roughly 5,000 kids in the U.S. In addition, Zappos is selling a limited-edition hoodie by Psycho Bunny in support of O’Neal’s preferred charity, Communities in Schools.

Want More?

Grading Back to School: BTS Shopping Dates & Early Sales Predictions

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Why Retailers Might Be Disappointed This Back-to-School Season

Watch FN’s interview with mom-influencer Arielle Charnas of Something Navy:

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