Timing is Everything in Back to School Retail

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The New York Times recently profiled a major trend – retailers are already starting to advertise back-to-school deals for the 2013-2014 school year. All this is with good reason; back-to-school shopping is big business. Over the course of the summer, consumers will spend an estimated $83 billion dollars (according to the National Retail Federation) on everything from notebooks to college supplies.

But what’s the impact of the back-to-school rush on retailers? The vast majority of customers will visit stores during weekends in August. Timing is always critical in retail and a great deal of attention is paid to this during the winter holidays. It’s also important that stores and suppliers have smart retail execution strategies for the lucrative back-to-school shopping period.

Most people leave back-to-school shopping to the last minute


According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 72% of customers plan to do their back-to-school shopping in the last month before school starts. 24% of them will wait until the final week or two. The reality is that this creates a hectic environment in stores. With less time to correct mistakes and shoppers in a rush, a mispriced product or an unstocked shelf can cost you sales.

Tax free weekends get people out the door….on Saturdays and Sundays in August

Another major factor around the country are tax-free weekends. Designed to get shoppers into stores, some states suspend sales tax for one weekend a year. These often fall during prime school shopping season during the month of August. (Here’s a list of 2013 tax-free weekends around the country). Many believe that it’s major purchases – like a new car or computer – that benefit most from tax free weekends.

In reality, cash-strapped consumers save up to buy a variety of items during this weekend. A stunning 85% of those surveyed by the NRF reported adjusting their spending based on the economy. Yet the savings isn’t enough: Forbes recently underscored the importance of good customer service, well-stocked shelves, and generally sharp retail during tax free weekends to convert foot traffic into sales.

Marketers are creating “holidays” like “Back to School Saturday

If people’s natural inclinations aren’t enough to get them out the door, retailers are working hard to create incentives that will. Teen Vogue has partnered with 50 brands to sponsor August 10th’s Back to School Saturday. The multi-brand event uses the Conde Nast publication, mobile apps, and more to help get consumers into stores. It’s just one more reason why any problems with retail execution need to be fixed as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, Gigwalk can send our on-demand mobile workforce whenever and wherever you need them.  Not only will they identify problems at retail, but they’ll fix them as they’re found. Finding problems quickly is great, but fixing them quickly is how you make the sale.

Request a demo today and we’ll show you how we can help you have your most successful year yet.

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