Total back-to-school spending is expected to rise 6.9% this year from 2006, though consumer spending on apparel is not expected to rise significantly, as consumers splurged on apparel last year.
Overall, this year’s numbers will be “completely opposite” from last year’s, said Mike Niemira of the International Council of Shopping Centers, as apparel posted a 10.4% gain and computers posted a modest 3.4% gain in 2006, according to ICSC’s annual back-to-school sales report.
This year, it seems consumers will be cutting back on apparel not only because of the excessive expenditure shown during the 2006 back-to-school season, but also because of consumer weariness over volatile gasoline and energy prices.
Ringing up the sales during the back-to-school season is key, as many consider it to be the second biggest shopping event of the year after the fourth-quarter holiday period.
Footwear, electronics, and teen retailers are expected to see the biggest sales increases this back-to-school season, while apparel and discount stores are expected to see fewer customers than last year.
Footwear sales are expected to rise 10.3% from 2006, according to NRF’s survey.
That percentage increase might have something to do with shoes selling well during economic downturns in general, said CNBC’s Margaret Brennan, as consumers want to accessorize their old outfits rather than purchase new ones.
Retailers who cater to teens, however, are trying more innovative approaches than ever in order to attract teenagers, who have “tremendous impact on their family’s spending decisions,” according to Phil Rist, vice president of strategy for BIGresearch.
American Eagle, for example, is sponsoring a contest in which shoppers can win a free pair of jeans. Rivals Old Navy and Wet Seal also are thinking up new ways to attract customers. Wet Seal teamed up with A&M/Octone Records in a sweepstakes that offers the winner various prizes, including tickets to a concert featuring the pop band Maroon 5. Old Navy, meanwhile, is stepping up its promotional sales.