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Back-To-School Season Will Offer Fascinating Insight Into State Of Retail



It's an outstanding opportunity to make some headway with new demographics and shoppers.
Back-to-school shopping season is in full effect, and that’s a welcome sight for retailers that may see a small downturn in the summer months. Beyond the boon at the cash registers, this year’s edition of back-to-school season takes on added significance as a number of retailers are using the opportunity to test new shipping models, pricing and inventory strategies, as well as technological enhancements. It’s also an outstanding opportunity to make some headway with new demographics and shoppers.

Back-to-school shopping

Philip Emma, a senior analyst with Debtwire, pointed out the significance of the quarter during an interview with Retail Dive.  "Across the board, it’s a potentially interesting quarter to look at because you’ve had so many store closures in the first half of the year that you’ve had a distortion in the industry," he said.  

Among the retailers to keep close tabs on are Target, which has been expanding its small format store concept near college campuses. The company has its sights set on following up on last year’s "very strong" back-to-school season. Walmart is kicking things up a notch as well by leaning on an innovative idea to make headway with shoppers on the hunt for school supplies.  

“The retailer also partnered with TeacherLists to let customers shop directly from the supply lists of their children’s teachers at Walmart.com and Jet.com,” Retail Dive reports. “(Think of it as a kind of online wedding registry for school supplies.) Walmart said in a July release that it expected to have 1 million searchable lists added to its websites by August.”

Dollar General has been enjoying some explosive growth, and the company stands to gain even more in 2017.  

“With more than $20 billion in annual revenue and plans to open 1,000 stores this year, Dollar General is poised to pick up millions in back-to-school dollars from the cost-conscious and/or cash-strapped,” Retail Dive adds. “It and other discounters have cut into the traditional business of Walmart, which is also contending with Amazon on the e-commerce front.”

Other retailers such as T.J. Maxx, J.C. Penney, Claire’s Store, and Gymboree are also on Retail Dive’s watch list for back-to-school season, as is - you guessed it - Amazon. 

“This year’s back-to-school season will be the first to test how Amazon contends with a new potential threat to its online dominance, Walmart, now a combination of one of the fastest-growing online sellers with the world’s largest retailer, indeed the world’s largest company by revenue,” according to Retail Dive. “Walmart’s $3 billion acquisition of Jet put Amazon on notice that the discount chain wants its piece of the online market.”

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