OPERATIONS

Accenture survey: Discounters continue to dominate back-to-school shopping

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Discount stores will continue to dominate as the destination for the majority of consumers’ back-to-school dollars this year, with office supply stores also remaining strong, according to a survey by Accenture on parents’ back-to-school shopping plans. The majority of parents (59%) will spend between $100 and $500 on back-to-school shopping this year, with 21% of consumers saying they plan to spend more than $500 this year. That’s down from 28% in 2010, indicating a decline in spending on the big ticket items for school.

Indeed, the survey found that only one-quarter (25%) of parents plan to purchase computers, cell phones and other electronic items for their children, down from 36% in 2010. At the top of back-to-school shopping lists are school supplies such as pens and paper (87%) and clothing (80%), followed by shoes (67%), accessories such as backpacks (66%) and dorm/apartment furnishings (18%).

“Necessity, not desire, will drive this year’s back-to-school season purchases,” said Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice. “Parents will be spending less on themselves to fund these purchases, and they will spend their dollars where they find the right mix of discounts, quality and convenience. Spending will neither be penny-pinching nor excessive, so retailers will need to keep a keen focus on inventory levels and delivering a targeted offer that meets their customers’ needs.”

Parents said their top three priorities when choosing a retailer for back-to-school products are: pricing and discounts (91%); quality of the products (69); and in-stock product (49%). Store experiences such as customer service and loyalty programs once again ranked low on the list of priorities.

In other key findings:

  • Half of parents (50%) said that they would do “none” of their back-to-school shopping online. Only 4% said “all” or “most” of their shopping would be done online.

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Borders to sell name, website

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — According to court papers filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, Borders Group is planning to auction off its intellectual property, including the Borders brand name and the Borders.com website, in a move that will enable the brand to live on after liquidation in a limited fashion.

The Sept. 14 auction, which will sell off the logo, trademarks, website, customer lists and other intellectual property, is expected to draw millions of dollars worth of offers.

A bankruptcy judge is slated to rule on the proposed auction on Aug. 10.

The team of liquidators is led by Gordon Brothers Group and Hilco Merchant Resources, who have a Nov. 13 deadline to empty the stores of all merchandise and fixtures.

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Walgreens settles prescription billing lawsuit in Connecticut

BY Staff Writer

Hartford, Conn. — The State Attorney’s office in Connecticut said Thursday that Walgreen Co. has settled a civil lawsuit with state and federal officials who accused the retailer of double-billing the government for prescription drugs.

Walgreen has reimbursed the government for billing errors made between June 1, 2006, and Aug. 31, 2008, and admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement.

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