The Retail Race is On for Back-to-School
It’s that time of the year again, when everyone thinks, “I can’t believe it’s already August” and “Thank goodness the kids will soon be out of the house!” With the school year beginning as soon as late August, the fall semester and its associated costs are looming. Be it pencils, backpacks, jeans, or dorm supplies, retailers compete to get to the head of the class in drawing back-to-school shoppers.
This year, retailers have started spending more earlier in the summer, investing a greater amount in ads that make mention of “back-to-school” than they did last year during the same period. Big differences were seen in the week of July 14 2014, when back-to-school spend for this week was more than double last year’s spending levels during the same period ($23 million vs. $11 million). With that said, 2014 YTD back-to-school retail spending levels are trailing 3% behind last year’s during the same period; retailers’ back-to-school spend peaked at $72 million in the last week of July 2013, compared to $54 million spent in the same calendar week of 2014. But with the bulk of this seasonal spend typically occuring in July and August, the back-to-school race is still on, with the leaders to be determined in the month to come.
Target, JCPenney compete for head of the class
In 2013, discount department stores like Target and Kmart led the retail pack in back-to-school ads at $150 million, followed by department stores like JCPenney and Kohl’s at $111 million, office supply stores, electronic stores, and apparel stores. In the first nine weeks of 2014 back-to-school ads, discount department stores have again spent the most on back-to-school ad messaging, followed by department stores, apparel stores, and electronic stores and office supply stores.
Discount department store Target and department store JCPenney and are going head-to-head this year with $17 and $16 million so far respectively in back-to-school creative (last year JCPenney invested a total of $113 million and Target $68 million in back-to-school ads). And apparel stores have already outspent last year’s back-to-school investments thanks to campaigns by Old Navy and Payless ShoeSource, in part making up for sharply lower spend by department stores. But we’re merely at the start of the season; at this point last year a little over half of Back-to-school ads had run (as evidenced by the bulk of spend after August 5, 2013 in the above chart), so the months of August and September will be telling.
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Need to Know More?
Our analysis of Back-to-School ad trends is based on our AdScope monitoring of the multimedia marketplace. Our scope extends beyond seasonal events, so if you would like to know more about how a particular category, brand, or messaging is faring across the entire media mix, we can provide actionable insights based on our broad range of solutions.
Senior Account Service Representative, AdScope
Kantar Media Ad Intelligence