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Promotions Driving More Back to School Sales

While it seems summer only just began, the start of school is less than a month away for many children. According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) latest Back-to-School Spending Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, it’s not too late for retailers to put together a back to school promotion.

NRF found that those preparing for both school and college were waiting until later in the season to finish their shopping, which is similar to the results from the same survey last year. One reason, it seems, is that parents are holding out for better prices on back-to-school items.

While they are planning to spend about the same amount of money as they have in previous years, 37 percent of parents with school-age children say they are shopping for sales more often. Another 28 percent say they will be using coupons more than they have in the past. Parents with college-age students were similar, with 28 percent saying they will buy more store brand or generic products than before and 30 percent saying they will shop for sales more often than they did in the past.

This general attitude will give retailers an opportunity to draw in back-to-school shoppers with more special promotions. Shoppers may not naturally think of a hardware store as a place to purchase the most popular back-to-school items like paper products and backpacks. Home improvement retailers who sell these items will need to double their efforts to promote them through social media and circular advertising.

Here are a few other ways you can grab some of the back-to-school market.

Make a list. Some schools offer lists of items students will need as they head back to the classroom. Parents know they need this list, and you can do some of the work for them by getting that list from the school and posting it in the store, along with all of the items on that list that your store can fulfill.

Off to college kit. Students heading off to college will have a lot more items you may be able to provide, such as storage and organizational products, lamps, small appliances, fans, packing tape and batteries. Consider putting together an off-to-college kit with a few of the essentials they’ll need, which you can sell as a package.

Use device accessories as impulse. Students are plugged into an electronic device most of the day, it seems, and many of them will use those devices as tools at school. This is a good time of the year to put device accessories, such as cords, power packs and cases, up front as impulse items so those students have what they need.

Be the source for school spirit wear. If your town has limited places where residents can purchase school spirit wear, ask the school if you can partner with them to sell logoed hats, shirts and other school spirit paraphernalia. This niche doesn’t have to take up a lot of space and may bring in a lot new customers.

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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