As the summer comes to a close, pain in the pocketbook typically accompanies the start of a new school year. The back-to-school time period is usually the second busiest shopping event of the year; yet, this year’s statistics reveal a sharp decline in sales.
Analysts predict that parents of students in kindergarten through high school will spend an average of $434 on back-to-school items, a 20% decrease, compared with past years. Two major reasons for the decline in sales are that students are extending the life of their back to school items and changing the way they use technology. While one industry is seeing a decrease in sales, other industries have the opportunity to capitalize on it. Here’s how other industries can take advantage of changing back-to-school spending patterns:
Computer Repair Shops
According to Alison Paul, Vice Chairman of US retail and distribution, part of the average decrease in back-to-school spending is due to the fact that laptops and tablets are no longer strictly back-to-school items. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center shows 84% of US households, and 73% of household have a computer with broadband access. Our constant reliance on computers for everything from schoolwork to entertainment means the cost is spread out more smoothly throughout the year. Repair shops however, should consider specials offers during this time, to freshen up old laptops or wipe the hard drives of computers slated for teens heading off to college or for laptops being passed down to a younger sibling.
Alterations Shops/Dry Cleaners
39% of the decrease in the back-to-school spends can be attributed to students who plan to reuse last year’s supplies and clothing. While big-box stores may be losing out on back to school purchases, dry cleaners and alteration shops can capitalize on families wanting to extend the life of their wardrobes. As Allison Paul points out, the Internet has made it much easier to make back-to-school purchases during the year. Shoppers are spacing out their purchases until they truly need them, and sometimes this doesn’t fall in the original back-to-school time period. This could be a great opportunity for a fantastic seamstress to capture a new set of clients. They could alter every day clothes or school uniforms for families opting to reuse. Comparatively, a smart dry cleaner can offer specials on sprucing up existing wardrobes.
Industry shifts caused by change in consumer behavior
As Paul puts it, “I don’t think it [the change] is bad news for the economy. I think it’s more about [consumer] behavior.” Consumer behavior is changing, and this is an opportunity for different businesses in various industries to make the most of the change. However, to take advantage of this opportunity, these business need to have an accurate and up-to-date online presence. Declining spending in one area often means new opportunities for other businesses. By ensuring your potential customers are up to date on your services and specials, you provide them with accurate information about your business online. Additionally, ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Mark Harrington, VP of Marketing at Clutch, emphasizes, “there is no getting around the increasing mobile adoption among consumers, so ensuring your online and ecommerce sites are mobile compatible is critical so consumers can easily navigate and shop your business with their smartphones.” By providing customers with the best information about your business where they’re searching for it, you give your business the best opportunity for success.
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