From July onwards each year parents of school age children are getting their wallets out, spending on stuff for the new term. In our supposedly more equal days it’s still mainly the mums who have to take care of all this. For organised mums and sometimes dads it’s one more job on the to do list: for the rest it’s enough to make beads of sweat break out on the forehead.

As we went to press Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England was warning that the UK economy will not get back to the level it was before the 2007 crash until 2017, a full decade after Northern Rock sent savers queuing round the block to take their money out. Times will go on being tough, then. But whatever the economy is doing, parents with school age kids at home still have to get their little darlings ready for the new term. And with parents living increasingly hectic lives this part of the annual programme is often left to the last minute. Any wonder those multiple grocers with a strong Back to School offering do so well on sales.

From the start of the school holidays, as the days pass and September gets nearer ‘Back To School’ is very big business indeed, taking in food and drink items for the lunch box and clothing, footwear and home stationery.

‘Back to School’ brings with it a substantial cost for all parents with school age children. In context, spending on school wear represents around 20% of all spending on children’s clothes. The supermarkets make good business out of offering cheap school uniforms, clothing and footwear. Their increased focus on non-food continues to be extremely successful; in the case of stationery encroaching on the classroom and the need for school kids?and families at home to be fully up to?date, demand is growing for computer?accessories such as bags, memory?sticks, printers, ink cartridges and paper, each one a huge opportunity for multiple grocers.

But the lunchbox is by far the biggest part of the ‘Back To School’ market. Food and drinks aimed at children and teenagers have come a long way in the last few years in terms of natural colours and so on, and represent a healthier choice than a decade ago. Purchasing for the lunchbox is a significant part of the weekly shop, and these items represent a major opportunity, week in week out. Finally, remember the kids themselves also have plenty of their own cash 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.

The Grocery Trader

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