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Back-to-school shopping already on parents’ minds

BY Dan Berthiaume

LOS ANGELES — Although summer vacations have just begun for many schoolchildren, parents already have back-to-school shopping on their minds.

According to the new Consumer Pulse survey of parents with kids in grades K-12 and college from Rubicon Project, 56% of respondents said they plan to spend more money per child than they did last year to prepare the students for the upcoming school year.

K-12 parents plan to spend on average $873 per student, while parents who also have college students are planning to spend more than $1,100 per student. Parents have also started their back-to-school shopping early. Nearly one-quarter of K-12 parents (23% have already begun and will continue to spread their purchases throughout the summer.

As signs of the improving economy and the growing student use of technology in the classroom, the Rubicon Project survey found that nearly two in five parents (38%) intend to purchase technology products such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones specifically to meet students’ in-class needs and requirements. On average, elementary and secondary school parents expect to spend nearly $400 on technology products, compared to $278 on apparel.

Saving money and finding great deals still lie at the heart of back-to-school shopping for many parents. Nearly two-thirds of parents surveyed (61%) said store sales and promotions are the top determinant of when they conduct their back-to-school shopping. Nearly three in four parents (74%) said they prefer to shop at a big box retailer or large chain store if it meant getting a better deal.

While the majority of parents continue to purchase most of their back-to-school items in-store, online shopping and even mobile shopping are becoming increasingly popular alternatives. Fifty percent of parents with college students clicked on an online ad in the past seven days, and nearly half of them (48%) also clicked on a mobile ad. About two in five parents of college students reported making a purchase within the past week based on a mobile ad (41%) or an online ad (42% they saw.

Half of parents surveyed (50%) said they typically spend the most time shopping or researching products online during the regular business hours of 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Two in five parents (39%) reserve their shopping until evening hours from 5 p.m. – midnight, while 11% are night owls or early birds who shop online from midnight – 9 a.m.

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NYT: CVS Health resigning from U.S. Chamber over position on tobacco products

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health is reportedly withdrawing its membership from the United States Chamber of Commerce over the chamber’s stance on smoking, according to The New York Times.

CVS Health, which pulled the plug on tobacco products last year, made its decision after learning that the chamber and its foreign affiliates were embarking on a global lobbying campaign against antismoking laws, the NYT reported. That lobbying activity runs counter to CVS Health’s mission to improve public health.

According to the NYT, the chamber and its network of foreign affiliates targeted restrictions on smoking in public spaces, bans on menthol and slim cigarettes, advertising restrictions, excise tax increases, plain packaging and graphic warning labels, and often in developing countries.

The chamber stated that it does not support smoking but is looking to defend its members’ business interests, the NYT reported.

 

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Jean Coutu’s marketing initiatives help fuel Q1

BY Antoinette Alexander

LONGUEUIL, Quebec — Canada’s Jean Coutu Group reported on Tuesday a lift in first quarter retail sales thanks, in part, to its marketing initiatives, Francois Coutu, president and CEO, told analysts during its quarterly conference call.

“Total sales have achieve solid growth in a market which still remains very competitive,” Coutu told analysts.

During the quarter, retail sales increased 4.4% to Canadian $1.06 billion. On a same-store basis, pharmacy sales increased 4.2% during the quarter as front-end sales increased 2.7%.

Net profit during the quarter totaled C$50.6 million, or 27 Canadian cents per share, compared with C$54.1 million, or 29 Canadian cents per share, in the year-ago period. According to Coutu, the decrease is mainly due to a tax provision of C$4.7 million recorded during the first quarter.

During the quarter, the pharmacy retailer put forward several marketing initiatives, such as weekly flyers announcing lower prices. The company also launched additional promotions and contests that were supported by advertising campaigns on TV, radio, weekly flyers and social media.

“[The] increase in sales were significant during these events,” Coutu told analysts.

Coutu noted that, again this year, the company served as the Parents and Kids Fair sponsor in Montreal and Quebec in April and May. During the event, the company promoted its services and products and distributed more than 15,000 kits for new mothers at both the fair and in its stores.

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