Back in 1972 Alice Cooper was right about school being out for summer, but these days it’s very much ‘in’ in our multiple stores! As soon as the little darlings are home for the holidays, the supermarkets and Co-ops and the high street stores fill with stuff for the new school term. Parents with school age kids now have more ways than ever to shop for the new school year of course, and the major retailers are actively engaging them every way they can.

chazFrom July onwards parents’ purses take a beating when it comes to paying for stuff for school, as children shoot up and put on growth spurts, and last year’s new uniforms just aren’t big enough anymore, or suddenly appear worn out. The current UK property bubble might be diverting many parents from thinking about forking out for new school stuff, but it has to be done.

More people working means more pressure on parents to squeeze everything into the time available. In many cases this starts as soon as the baby is a few months old, leaving the child with child minders. So hopefully by primary school, working parents are used to the idea of buying all the stuff and getting the kids organised every day…

Here’s the point – with parents financially stretched and forced to live 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 in this area do so well on sales.

From the start of the holidays, as September gets nearer Back To School is very big business, taking in big ticket items like clothing and footwear, plus less expensive but still significantly pricey items like home stationery and food and drink items for the lunch box. Schoolwear represents around 20% of all outlay on children’s clothes. The supermarkets do extremely well offering affordable school clothing and footwear as part of their burgeoning non-food offering: meanwhile stationery for the classroom and homework is another massive opportunity. But the lunchbox is by far the biggest part of the ‘Back To School’ market, needing to be filled up week in week out, and purchasing for the lunchbox is a significant chunk of the weekly shop.

Finally, the schoolkids themselves also have plenty of their own cash to spend on impulse food and drink, confectionery and other things in local stores on the way to school, at lunchtime and on the way home. So get ready for school across the departments to get top marks

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