NPD sees modest BTS recovery



NPD sees modest BTS recovery


Market research firm NPD says that a late back-to-school season this year has seen modest growth for the office supplies superstores in the US.


Retail dollar sales of back-to-school products from the office superstores grew 2 percent in August over the prior year, according to the NPD Retail Tracking Service, after July showed flat performance.


The back-to-school season for school supplies had its best performance in the latter half of August, as many consumers waited until the last minute to purchase their supplies.


Retail sales results were pretty much in line with what consumers said they planned to spend on back-to-school supplies, says NPD. According to its new Back-to-School Monitor nearly three-quarters of consumers said they were going to spend at least the same or more than they did last year and, according to the report, a majority of consumers did that spending in either one or two shopping trips.


Those two major shopping trips were planned with three main things in mind; price, convenience and selection. According to the report 83 percent of consumers say "everyday low prices" are important when shopping for school supplies, followed by a "well-stocked school supply section" (82 percent), and "sales/discounts/promotions" (79 percent).


While retailer loyalty exists with a core group of consumers, 77 percent of consumers say they are willing to shop around to get a better deal or lower price.


Consumers stuck to the basics on their school supply lists, mostly purchasing the items they needed for school. Basic items such as pens, markers, highlighters, report covers and pencil sharpeners experienced modest to double-digit growth.


Personal hygiene products also seem to have become a staple in back-to-school lists with tissues and hand sanitizers continuing their strong performance from last year, even though H1N1 fears have subsided.


"We are seeing signs of a slow and moderate recovery in the school supplies market," said Perry James, President, office supplies and non-games software at NPD.

"Consumers are sticking with the necessities on their back-to-school lists, but are willing to shop around to get a better deal. It’s imperative for retailers and manufacturers to make sure they have the right products at the right price and keep those consumers in one store for their one-stop shopping."