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How Kohl’s, Walmart, JCPenney and Target Are Battling It Out to Win Over Back-to-School Shoppers

It’s back to school — and in person — for most states across the U.S. this fall, and retailers are readying for the highly-anticipated shopping season.

After a year of virtual schooling due to the pandemic, spending is expected to ramp up. According to a Deloitte’s consumer survey, back-to-school spending this year will reach a collective $32.5 billion for K-12 students, about $612 per student, and back-to-college shoppers will spend $26.7 billion, about $1,459 per student.

As a result, big box chains such as Target, Kohl’s, Walmart and JCPenney are duking it out for consumers’ dollars by launching new collections, partnerships and deals.

Kohl’s is all about savings, for instance. Educators and school staff will be able to shop with a 20% in-store discount this weekend, July 16 through July 18. Plus, as another “thank you,” shoppers will receive $10 in Kohl’s Cash for every $50 spent during this time period, giving teachers and staff a chance to save on future purchases.

Target is also zeroing in on hot deals for the back-to-school season, with 80% of its back-to-school collection under $10.

Starting July 18 through July 31, teachers who sign up via Target Circle will receive a one-time discount of 15% off select classroom supplies and essentials. Additionally, college students will be eligible for savings from Aug. 15 to Aug. 21, with $15 off for every $50 spent on household essentials.

Retailers are also looking for ways to connect with Gen Z, which is why Walmart has partnered with popular tween brand Justice.

The new back-to-school collection, available now, includes more than 140 items across fashion, jewelry and accessories, bedding and bath, backpacks, stationery, skateboards and tech accessories. The line features leggings starting at $8, tie dye sweatshirts and joggers starting at $13 and oversized hoodies for $18. New styles will be added seasonally, including shoes and pet accessories debuting in September.

In addition, JCPenney has launched a new and inclusive kids’ collection available exclusively at JCPenney and jcp.com today. The Thereabouts private brand features back-to-school essentials, from basics to uniforms, sleep to outerwear, and a variety of shoe styles. The line is designed for toddlers to big kids, running from sizes 2T–22, which includes plus size.

Thereabouts apparel is available with adaptive features, too, for children with disabilities, including easy-access openings, sensory-friendly seaming and no tags. JCPenney has also partnered with adaptive fashion marketplace company Patti + Ricky to expand its children’s adaptive offerings with its notable accessory brands such as BeedleBug, which offers socks, Max & Me and Myself Belts.

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