Here we go again. From July onwards each year parents of school age children are getting their wallets out, spending on stuff for the new term. Even in our more equal days it’s still mainly the mums who have to take care of all this.

chazAs we closed, hopes of an economic recovery were growing as the services sector expanded at its fastest in over two years, based on monthly data from Markit. Service sector firms reported surging workloads in June, prompting the biggest increase in new staff hires since before the financial crisis in August 2007.

Whatever the economy is doing, parents with school age kids at home still have to get their little darlings ready for the new term. More people working means more pressure to squeeze everything into the time available. For those who are organised it’s one more job on the to do list: for the rest it’s enough to make sweat break out on the forehead. Here’s the point – with parents living increasingly hectic lives Back to School is one bit of the to do list that’s often left to the last minute. Any wonder those multiple grocers with a strong offering do so well on sales.

From the start of the school holidays, as September gets nearer ‘Back To School’ is very big business, 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. 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. So, stay stocked up to get top marks.

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