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Retailers See Back-to-school Sales Slowing - In Us

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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/15/business...mp;ref=business

Halfway through the back-to-school shopping season, retail professionals are predicting the worst performance for stores in more than a decade, yet another sign that consumers are clinging to every dollar.

Fears about the job market have resulted in sluggish customer traffic over the last few weeks, spurring the gloomy sales projections. Parents who do shop are aggressively trading down, informing status-conscious teenagers that notebooks from the dollar store or shirts from Costco will have to do this year.

Stock analysts at Citigroup are predicting a decline in back-to-school sales for the first time since they began tracking the figures in 1995. They estimate August and September sales at stores open for at least a year — known as same-store sales — will fall 3 to 4 percent, compared with an increase of nearly 1 percent in the same period last year.

The National Retail Federation, an industry group, expects the average family with school-age children to spend nearly 8 percent less this year than last. And ShopperTrak, a research company, predicted customer traffic would be down 10 percent from a year ago.

“This is going to be the worst back-to-school season in many, many years,†said Craig F. Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retailing consultant firm.

Many analysts consider the season to begin in mid-July; sales numbers for that month are out already, and they were poor. Same-stores sales fell 5 percent compared with last year, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, an industry group. Figures out this week from the government showed that overall retail sales in July were down 8.3 percent from the same month last year.

Back-to-school sales in July were hurt because many states moved their sales tax holidays out of July and into August. This month, retail sales should get a lift from those tax holidays. Still, the council expects August same-store sales to decline 3.5 to 4 percent compared with last year.

A report this week by IBISWorld, a research company, found that back-to-school spending would fall in nearly every category compared with last year: clothing, down 5.4 percent; footwear, down 4.4 percent; and electronics, down 1.8 percent. Sales of traditional school supplies like notebooks and pencils are expected to be about the same as last year.

Retailers typically do some of their biggest business during the back-to-school shopping period, also considered to be an early predictor of the holiday shopping season. If the forecasts turn out to be right, this could be another tough holiday period.

This year’s frugality may hark back to an earlier age, but consumers are using up-to-the-minute tools in their determination to save money. They are scouring the Internet for coupons. They are planning their shopping trips around e-mail alerts that tip them to bargains.

One mother, Clarissa Nassar, signed up for alerts about sales on a Web site called Shop It To Me. When she saw that her daughter’s favorite brand, Baby Phat, was on sale at Macy’s, she promptly drove to the department store to shop for school clothes.

“I got an alert for the cutest tie-dye pink top,†said Ms. Nassar, a mother of two, Mikayla, 7, and Joseph, 3, in Johnstown, N.Y. “Originally it was $36 and I got it for $9.75.â€

Executives at Google said Internet searches for back-to-school bargains had soared this year. Searches for coupons are up 40 percent over last year and searches for buy-one-get-one-free deals are up 30 percent.

Dan Schock, head of Google’s East Coast retail team, which helps retailers advertise online, said the race to find free items and deals on the Web began earlier this year than last year. “They’re comparison shopping,†he said.

That has spurred a digital-driven flight to low-price retailers. Google searches for the terms “Wal-Mart†and “school supplies†are up 160 percent compared with a year ago. And searches for Aéropostale, the value-priced teenage apparel chain, are up 50 percent year-over-year.

Clearly shoppers haven't got the global recovery memo stating that it's safe to start spending again.

Consumers it appears aren't spending and yet we have a recovery, and some nations reporting better than expected GDP figures.

Is someone lying it couldn't be the govt they are such honest, fine upstanding individuals.

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Giant sized lunch break cool boxes and mega meal hampers are not in demand so much now that food is expensive.

America is deflating.

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Parents in the UK are in debt to the schools for unpaid school services and activities. Schools will be axing those extra services and school trips and taking legal action to reclaim debts outstanding.

It was on BBC news this morning.

Theres no money out there.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/15/business...mp;ref=business

Clearly shoppers haven't got the global recovery memo stating that it's safe to start spending again.

Consumers it appears aren't spending and yet we have a recovery, and some nations reporting better than expected GDP figures.

Is someone lying it couldn't be the govt they are such honest, fine upstanding individuals.

I miss Woolworths - one of life's joys was the "Back To School" posters in the shop window - they just hung there: a malignant threat all summer. The little bast ards would seen be out from under our feet.

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Parents in the UK are in debt to the schools for unpaid school services and activities. Schools will be axing those extra services and school trips and taking legal action to reclaim debts outstanding.

It was on BBC news this morning.

Theres no money out there.

it's on the website also:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8202713.stm

Parent debt 'damaging education'

Parents who do not settle school bills for their children's care at breakfast and after-school clubs are jeopardising pupils' education, head teachers say.

The National Association of Head Teachers said growing non-payment of bills was leading to budget shortfalls, forcing schools to cut activities.

Some schools say they have not ruled out legal action to reclaim the money.

...

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A school outfit supplier near me has had a big sign up outside for a few weeks now warning people that they need to buy their uniforms now before they go on holiday to avoid the rush.

Lots of dire warnings about being sold out, etc, etc, which, to me personally, smacks of desperation.

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If its anything like here people are sick of back to school sales. They seem to start before the kids have actually left school for the summer break.

Now of course we have Christmas displays - even though Xmas is over 4 months away.

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A school outfit supplier near me has had a big sign up outside for a few weeks now warning people that they need to buy their uniforms now before they go on holiday to avoid the rush.

Lots of dire warnings about being sold out, etc, etc, which, to me personally, smacks of desperation.

They're fooked since the OFT ruled schools can't choose a unique uniform and then stipulate a specialist retailer to purchase it from. This was to help those who aren't well off so they can get a cheap tat uniform from Asda.

All that'll be left of independent school suppliers will be a handful supplying private schools.

The franchisor of National Schoolwear Centres went bust a while back. Probably not really viable these days renting a shop for a, pretty much, once a year sell out period.

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Parents in the UK are in debt to the schools for unpaid school services and activities. Schools will be axing those extra services and school trips and taking legal action to reclaim debts outstanding.

It was on BBC news this morning.

Theres no money out there.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8202713.stm

Parents who do not settle school bills for their children's care at breakfast and after-school clubs are jeopardising pupils' education, head teachers say.

The National Association of Head Teachers said growing non-payment of bills was leading to budget shortfalls, forcing schools to cut activities.

Some schools say they have not ruled out legal action to reclaim the money.

Ministers argue help is available for parents and the use of the courts to recover debts should be a last resort.

Schools are encouraged to utilise their buildings outside of regular hours, but much of the cost of providing "wrap-around care" has to be met by parents.

Breakfast and after-school clubs are subsidised by the government, but cost parents between 50p and £10 per session.

'Money not forthcoming'

Simon Emsley, head teacher of Lakeside Community Primary School in Derby, said parents owed his school £4,500 for nursery fees and its other morning and evening clubs.

The school has had to cancel outings because of the shortfall, he said, and he is considering possible legal action to try to recover the money.

"Where we feel children are coming from families that can pay and this money is not forthcoming, we will go to any measure that we feel appropriate with that particular family," Mr Emsley said.

"I don't actually feel that people always realise just the impact that they are having by their non-payment."

I wonder how many of these families who haven't paid are prioritising there bills. Paying for school trips will be at the bottom of the list as far as I'm concerned.

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