“Ring ring goes the bell, the cook in the lunchroom’s ready to sell…” Chuck Berry recorded School Days back in 1957, nearly 60 years ago. Rock ‘n’ roll is still with us today, and equally, sending the kids off to school properly equipped on the first day of the new school year and every day after that remains a huge opportunity for retailers.

chazAnd in our era of omni-channel retailing, read that as a 24/7 opportunity for sales online, sales in superstores and crucially, sales in convenience format stores. The big stores can justifiably claim to own all or part of ‘Back To School’ if they so wish.

So what products are we talking about here? The retailer’s syllabus for products that come under “Back to School” covers not just the big items of school clothing and equipment but also food and drink for the lunchbox, stationery, food wrappings and stationery for class and home.

The figures are mouthwatering. Bringing up children is a very costly business, as any parent knows. In a 2013 survey by Nationwide Building Society, parents spent an average of £574 a year per child to send their little darlings to school. This included travel, uniform and lunch costs. Parents now spend an average of £1.88 on each child per day on school lunch, which equates to £366.60 over the course of the school year.

In the Nationwide survey the average cost of the school run came to £5.31 a week, which equates to £207.09 per child for the academic year. That figure includes the 46 per cent of parents who said their child walks or cycles to school.

In the words of Richard Napier, Nationwide’s divisional director for savings and mortgages: “There is a never ending circle of school costs for parents.

No sooner have they finished paying for the uniform, shoes, bags, stationery and other essentials necessary for the start of term, than parents have to turn their attention to how their children are going to get to school and be fed at lunchtime. Add this to money spent during the summer holidays and in preparation for the new school year, it is easy to understand why school life can be a financial burden on parents. That is why it is important to plan ahead and prepare for these costs.”

So the stores need to do the same – plan ahead and prepare for Back To School sales!

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