Back-to-school products are expected to post modest sales gains this year, according to a report released last week by the Nielsen Co., New York. In a post on the company's news wire, Nielsen forecast a dollar sales increase of 0.4% to 1.3%, to $2.17 billion for the coming season, with unit sales declining 5.5% from 2008, to 1.18 billion.
“Unlike the winter holidays, back-to-school shopping, to some extent, is not viewed as discretionary by consumers. Kids must have certain items at the start of the new school year,” James Russo, vice president, Global Consumer Insights at Nielsen, said in the report. “That said, we expect sales to increase at an extremely modest level in dollar terms in 2009. The nation is firmly in the midst of recession, so consumers will spend their money carefully, as they have for the better part of a year, and focus on purchasing the essentials.”
Russo predicted that the winners during the 2009 BTS season will be retailers who offer strong discounts and appeal to consumers' desire for savings and value.
“Look for gains from supercenters, dollar stores, drug stores and, to a lesser extent, club and grocery stores,” he said.
Last year, in a similar report, Nielsen predicted that BTS dollar sales would increase 2.6%, which was very close to the actual result of 2.4%.