Back-to-school sales start early

EVERETT — School’s out for summer, but school supplies are in.

And retailers are rolling out deep discounts early as consumers are expected to scale back their back-to-school spending.

“The economy has clearly changed the spending habits of American families, which will likely create a difficult back-to-school season for retailers,” said Tracy Mullin, president of the National Retail Federation.

The group recently released the results of its back-to-school shopping survey, which predicts about $47.5 billion in retail revenue from school and college spending nationwide. Shoppers for children, kindergarten through 12th grade, will spend an average of $548.72 on school merchandise, down 7.7 percent from last year.

Spending for college students is expected to increase about 3 percent over last year, with more students living at home. Fewer students are expected to attend college this fall, driving down overall retail revenue from college students, the study found.

“Parents want to give their children everything necessary for the best education, but, this year, living at home may need to be a concession students need to make,” said Phil Rist, an executive vice president with BIGresearch, which conducts studies for the retail federation. “The trend of students living with their parents will disproportionately impact home furnishings retailers, as fewer people may be purchasing kitchen items, home décor and furniture.”

Retailers around Snohomish County are gearing up for the back-to-school season by holding summer clearance sales. Some stores, like Staples, not only already have back-to-school supplies in stock but also have run major sales events. For supply retailers, the back-to-school season is even bigger than Christmas.

Kimberly Combs, an assistant manager at Staples on Everett’s Evergreen Way, estimates that 60 percent of the store’s sales come from the six-week period from August to mid-September. Keeping in mind that consumers may need to spread out their school spending this year, Staples held its first back-to-school sale last week, offering coupons worth $5 toward every $20 spent in the store.

Computer sales may be the one bright spot in school and college spending this year. Staples’ Combs noted that huge discounts on computers have buoyed electronics sales. The National Retail Federation study also found both college and kindergarten through 12th-grade shoppers will spend more this year on electronics than last year.

Sales of clothing, shoes and dorm furnishings are likely to drop this year, the study found. But that isn’t going to stop places such as the Seattle Premium Outlet center in Tulalip from trying to reel in back-to-school shoppers. The center already has scheduled a fall preview and back-to-school sale for July 30 to Aug. 3.

The Everett Mall has seen a slight increase in retail activity recently, giving Julie Tennyson, mall marking director, hope for the back-to-school season. Like most retailers around the country, stores in the Everett Mall will look to incentives to draw in back-to-school shoppers, Tennyson said. Buyers for junior high and high school students can take advantage of the mall’s gift card deal: buy a $100 gift card, good at most mall stores, and receive a $20 gift card to a handful of teen retailers such as rue21, Aeropostale and Pac Sun.

“The incentives are just getting bigger and bigger,” Tennyson said.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

The 214-foot tall cranes work to unload their first cargo shipments at South Terminal at the Port of Everett on Thursday, April 8, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Renovated Port of Everett terminal gets first cargo customer

The 655-foot Westwood Columbia is the first ship to call at the newly upgraded South Terminal dock.

Project Roxy is a proposed 2.8 million square foot distribution center that would be built on a 75-acre parcel at the Cascade Industrial Center. The rendering depicts the proposed project at 4620 172nd Street in Arlington from a northwest perspective.
1,000 jobs: Amazon to open distribution center in Arlington

The company is the tenant behind Project Roxy, a $355 million building at the Cascade Industrial Center.

Garry Clark, the new CEO of Economic Alliance Snohomish County (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
At a tough time, a new CEO leads local economic development

Garry Clark has taken the helm at Economic Alliance Snohomish County, where job one is pandemic recovery.

Kathy Coffey (left) and Courtney Wooten
Leadership Snohomish County offers racial equity conference

The fifth annual day-long Step Up: Moving Racial Equity Forward will be held online on April 30.

FILE- In this Sept. 30, 2020, file photo, a Boeing 737 Max jet, piloted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson, prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle. Boeing says it has informed 16 of its customers that they should address a possible electrical issue in certain 737 Max aircraft before using them further. Boeing said Friday, April 9, 2021, that the recommendation was made “to allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system.” (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Boeing: possible electrical issue in some 737 Max aircraft

The company said that the new problem was unrelated to the flight-control system.

Aerospace supplier with Everett site files for bankruptcy

Wichita-based TECT Aerospace filed for Chapter 11 and plans to sell an Everett manufacturing facility.

Edmonds grocery store workers may soon earn hazard pay

Some employers are required to increase wages by $4 an hour, the city council voted Tuesday.

What local firms are doing to promote diversity and equity

Here’s how some of Snohomish County’s biggest companies and organizations say they are making a difference.

Boeing President Ron Woodard, fifth from left, breaks ground with Boeing officials to make way for the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group Headquarters Office Building at the Longacres Park site in Renton Wash. Wednesday, May 14, 1997. (AP Photo/Loren Callahan)
For sale: Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes headquarters in Renton

A large warehouse on the Bomarc property in Everett also is for sale.

Snehal Patel, Global Head of Cell Therapy Manufacturing at Bristol Myers Squibb, stand outside the facility on Monday, March 29, 2021 in Bothell, Washington. A Bristol Myers Squibb facility in Bothell is one of four facilities in the United States where the company supercharges a person's T-cells to better fight blood cancers. The facility uses a virus  -- a viral delivery system -- to add punch to an individual's T-cells. The T-cells are then returned to the person better-equipped to destroy cancer cells.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Cancer patients nationwide send their blood cells to Bothell

At a Bristol Myers Squibb lab, the cells are altered and returned to patients fighting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Brett Smith, CEO of Propeller Airports, shares a scene from the March 4, 2019 opening of the commercial airline terminal at Paine Field during a Lynnwood Chamber of Commerce virtual gathering on March 17, 2021. From a screenshot.
Passenger service at Paine Field is gradually bouncing back

Terminal operator Propeller Airports foresees a possible upswing by June as air travel rebounds.

Terrie Battuello (Port of Everett)
Port of Everett economic director to join Economic Alliance

Terry Battuello will fill a newly created economic development position at the public-private nonprofit.