I live in the Northeast. So, my daughter just went back to school last week. My nieces and nephews who live in other parts of the country have been back to school for nearly a month or more.
I have worked in the b-to-b retail industry for most of my career. I am well aware of the continued consolidation, channels blurring with retailers trying to capture the total market basket with product categories being sold across retail lines. But, shopping for back to school supplies made my vision blurry!
This year in particular, I didn't know which store I was shopping. I could have been anywhere. Regardless of the retailers core category the back to school seasonal products are in heavy pursuit from every type of retailer. I literally saw back to school promotions and products in grocery chains, dollar stores, office supplies, discounters, mass merchants, drug chains and need I go on? From the traditional mass discounters like Walmart and Target to specialty stores like Bed Bath Beyond and Staples to chain stores like CVS and Stop and Shop; and, let's not even touch the options to buy school supplies online.
So many convenient choices for the consumer that helps to meet the needs of busy shoppers. Need milk and bread from a grocer? You're there so might as well pick up the needed school supplies. Need computer ink from an office supply store? Might as well grab the school supplies. And why not, retailers are always looking for seasonal categories that can contribute to their gross profit margins.
Retail Dive reports that parents are expected to shell out an average $1,642 on student expenses this year, up 33% from 2015’s average of $1,239, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.
As stores continue to chase product categories that add to the convenience of its shoppers (and to its bottom line) they start to blur. Please leave all of your preconceived notions at the "entrance" and just shop for what you need versus shopping for what you think the store carries. You'll be so surprised at check out how many of your product needs were met. Your vision might get a little blurry; and, upon "exiting" the store you just might have to glance back to confirm exactly where you were shopping.
Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges. Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands.
Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.