Grading Back to School: Mixed-Bag for Retailers + Nike Rules Sneakers

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

BTS Is a Bright Spot

Early forecasts for back-to-school suggested that families would up their spending for back-to-school, and the predictions appear to be coming true — though for some retailers more than others. In the latest quarterly reports issued during the past two weeks, big-box chains Walmart, Kohl’s and Target all pointed to strong early sales for school shopping. Mark Tritton, chief merchandising officer at Target, said on a call with investors, “We’re pleased with our early results in our back-to-school and back-to-college program, which is second only to the fourth-quarter holiday season in terms of importance.” Specialty athletic retailer Foot Locker also remarked on the importance of the season, with EVP and CEO Lauren Peters adding in a conference call that the company is “able to continue flowing fresh [and] exciting products, which keeps our inventory productive and positions us well for back-to-school.” Department stores Macy’s, JCPenney and Nordstrom, however, finished their quarters with less-upbeat reports.

The Swoosh Abides

Nike once again is dominating BTS, as found in a recent study from investment bank Stifel. The company surveyed 100 U.S. sporting-goods stores to discover the most-popular styles of the fall season, and Nike sneakers were name-checked 81% of the time, up from 67% a year ago — with much of the gains coming from the women’s market, which has been a major focus for the Swoosh this year. Coming in second place in the report was Adidas, with 11% popularity, followed by Vans, at 6%. For Nike, its classic Air Force 1 silhouette has so far been the hottest item for both men and women, particularly in the white-on-white colorway. Other strong performers are the Air Max 270 and the Air Motion 2.

Mom vs. Dad

According to real estate firm JLL’s 2019 survey of more than 1,000 parents, when it comes to stocking up on school supplies, moms and dads have different shopping tactics. Dads, for instance, are likely to spend over $500, while moms will typically spend less that — which makes sense because the majority of moms also said that bargain-hunting is important to them, while dads placed a higher priority on having a wide selection. As for the types of retailers they frequent, dads prefer electronics stores and online shopping. Moms, meanwhile, like to visit discount and department stores.

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