Back-to-School Retail Season Looks Like Something to Celebrate

Fastest Rate of Growth in Four Years Was Driven by Electronics and Discounters

Early numbers are in for the 2016 BTS shopping season and retailers have something to cheer about. Though August retail numbers slipped a bit (down 0.3 percent), BTS sales were strong. Retail trend watchers and managers of retail real estate alike can’t help but be cheered by the activity during this second biggest shopping period of the year.

Will BTS Sales Meet the NRF’s 2016 Projection of $75.8 Billion?
Though not all the numbers are in yet, a recent report from Reuters says that 2016 BTS spending grew at its fastest rate in four years. According to statistics from First Data, sales rose 2 percent in July vs. 1 percent in 2015 and 2014 and just .2 percent in 2013. The NRF’s $75.8 billion projection for the BTS 2016 may be realized.

Good Weather and Optimistic Outlook Brought in the Shoppers
Better weather than in recent BTS seasons brought a wave of shoppers into stores. Many of them were searching for bargains – especially parents of young children. These are the thrifty Millennials, who came of age in lean times. “Income rises faster than frugality changes,” one retail analyst suggested.

Electronics Were the Hottest Items on the 2016 Shopping List
As expected, the big-sellers could be found in the electronics category. Electronics and appliance sales have been climbing in 2016 – their sharpest ascent in four years, according to First Data. BTS shoppers went for tablets and USB drives, especially if those items were bundled with special offers. Best Buy’s aggressive offers and coupons delivered strong sales. Items geared for dorm life were among the big winners.

Gap Recovers and Fast Fashion Outposts Score Big
Gap gained traction during the BTS season, leading to thoughts that its troubles may be behind them. Low-priced, fast fashion stores like Old Navy, T.J.Maxx and Marshalls delivered strong numbers, too. Chief Industry Analyst-Retail at NPD Group, Marshal Cohen credited the numbers at these stores to youngsters who will accept shopping at lower-priced retailers because they can get “more stuff.”

Whatever the reason for surging sales, retailers are closing out a banner season – the best in a long time. Now, all eyes are on the winter holiday ahead.