Glance at the trusty desk calendar, and you can see that August is running out and summer is drawing to a close. Many of us associate the lazy last days of summer with parents' obligatory back-to-school shopping trips, and the NPD Group has released its data projecting what back-to-school retail sales are going to look like. For those who have been agonizing over recent dire information that may have sounded negative for consumer spending, the expected slight uptick probably sounds like fine news.
First off, NPD projects that back-to-school sales are going to be up 1.4%, with $372 allotted per child, according to the research group's survey. As scant an increase as that is, given recent hand-wringing about gasoline prices biting into consumers' budgets perhaps that's as good a forecast as can be expected. Top items on families' shopping lists include school supplies, clothing, and footwear, with "value" being an important impetus to buy.
Oddly enough, signs aren't really there that things are looking too flush for the back-to-school season. Pencils, calculators, and notebooks seem sure to be must-have items, gained from stores such as Staples
Last week, W.D. Crotty commented on Gap's
On the other hand, recent history has shown teen-oriented retailer American Eagle Outfitters
As much as many might argue that research data should be taken with a grain of salt (case in point, all the recent distress over consumer spending), it'll be interesting to see whether consumers at large reflect the survey data and shrug off prices at the pump. Meanwhile, those of us who like to watch retail will continue to watch and see just which retailers seem to be resonating with the back-to-school crowd.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.