Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Back-to-School season arrives earlier this year
The NY Times is reporting that many retailers are moving up the start of their back-to-school sales and marketing campaigns devoted to children's clothing, stationery, computers, and other school-season merchandise. In at least one instance, ads that promote buying such items on layaway appeared in mid-June, when schools in several parts of the country were still in session.
The front-running of the back-to-school shopping season is not unlike how Madison Avenue has for years been advancing the start of the Christmas shopping season. Indeed, even as some retailers begin their back-to-school sales early, they are also sponsoring "Christmas in July" sales (as Target recently did online). In both instances, the reason for getting an early start is the same: with an uncertain economy, the goal is to gather your consumer dollars while they can, even if it may peeve some tradition-minded shoppers.
The first weekend in July brought newspaper circulars with back-to-school pitches from retailers including Target, Staples and Toys R Us. At the same time, August issues of magazines including Family Circle, Martha Stewart Living, and Parents have been arriving on newsstands and in subscribers' mailboxes with back-to-school ads from Target, Lands' End Kids, and Walmart.
A spokesman for Target in Minneapolis, Jennifer Mooney, said the retailer was "focused on delivering more value than ever" at Target stores and on target.com. Although the back-to-school merchandise "is available at the same time this year as it was last year," she added, there is a renewed emphasis on savings through coupon offers. For instance, "new this year," Ms. Mooney said, is a promotion in certain stores called Text to Get Coupon, by which shoppers can receive "an instant mobile coupon on specific items" such as General Electric light bulbs.