chaz2There’s no let up this autumn for the heroic, hard-pressed parents of Britain’s school age kids. The all too short school holidays are over, and now the nation’s mums (and dads and grandparents too, in some cases) are back on the school run again. And when they’re not ferrying the kids around, they’re in their local supermarket, busy shopping for their little darlings. So as the leaves turn brown and the roads clog up once more, it’s time for The Grocery Trader’s last minute revision session on Back To School.

Never underestimate the size of the Back to School market! After the end of the spending wave triggered by the World Cup, the UK’s retail pundits were looking around frantically for the next big wave of spending to bolster activity in store. They latched onto Back To School as the next major opportunity, and with good reason.

Lunchboxes and everything in them – food for school, food wrappings, sweets, soft drinks are very big business indeed. And then there’s clothing, and stationery for class and home. And these days, there’s the back to school lap top back pack as well.

Shoppers are in our stores buying food and drink for kids’ lunchbox week in, week out, making this the biggest part of the Back To School market overall. It’s good business, and good stuff nutritionally too. The Jamie Oliver Effect of a few years ago was certainly something that the New Labour government span to their PR advantage like so many other things of the time, but it had a lasting effect. Following Turkey Twizzlergate, food and drink products conceived for school age children have seen a total transformation in the last few years, with the sea change to fewer additives, lower fat, less salt and sugar, natural colours and so on, not to mention the advertising clampdown.

And the kids themselves are big spenders. Older primary school kids and secondary school kids have plenty of cash of their own to spend on impulse food, drink, confectionery and other items in local stores on the way to school, at lunchtime and on the way home.

Finally, the immediate prospect of declining pupil numbers is offset for multiple grocers by the fact that even in the recession, parents have generally become more willing to spend more on their children. So, keep your fixtures in good shape to capture the back to school opportunity and you’ll get top profits!

The Grocery Trader

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