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Value, deals favorite BTS subjects

BY DSN STAFF

Parents may spend a bit more freely for back-to-school this year, but value still is the name of the game. Nielsen predicted an “extremely modest” sales increase for the back-to-school season, due mostly to an increase in prices compared with last year. Nielsen forecasted unit sales for the office/school supply category to drop 5.25% to 1.04 billion.

Average amount U.S. families intended to spend on supplies

Source: National Retail Federation; BIGresearch Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey
YEAR AVERAGE AMOUNT
2010 $96.39
2009 82.62
2008 98.37

Supercenters, dollar stores and drug stores likely are to see gains in the category, according to Nielsen. “Those retailers offering strong discounts and appealing to customers’ desire for savings and value will be this year’s back-to-school winners,” said James Russo, Nielsen’s VP global consumer insights. “The drug channel may do better in the back half of the season as planning becomes less of a motivator and impulse shopping takes over.”

Cost-conscious consumers will be looking for deals and coupons, and manufacturers are planning to deliver. “We expect consumers to be focused on value,” said Tim Koletsos, director of stationery marketing at BIC Consumer Products USA. “Couponing continues to be a big focus for BIC, and during 2010, you’ll see an expanded presence.”

%of consumers planning to spend at least $250 on BTS shopping

Source: PriceGrabber.com
SCHOOL %OF CONSUMERS
Elementary 52%
Middle/junior high 62
High school 50
College/junior college 67

While BIC’s Koletsos expected such value products as ballpoint pen and mechanical pencil multipacks to have strong sales, he anticipated consumer demand for products that are new and different. “Fashion-barreled mechanical pencils continue to be extremely popular with students of all ages,” he said. Large ballpoint pens, which provide a bold and smooth gel-like writing experience, are an emerging category trend.

Newell Rubbermaid’s new Sharpie Liquid Pencil, which writes like a pen but erases like a pencil, should be a big hit this season as well.

There’s also room for fashion on every school-supply shopping list. “Kids expect their supplies to incorporate the trendiest colors and patterns, and their supplies function in much the same way as their clothes and accessories,” said Denise Sada, marketing manager at Mead. This year, Sada expected geometric patterns and bold florals to return as big fashion influences.

Peace signs also are a big fashion symbol this year, according to April Whitlock, a spokeswoman for Carolina Pad. The company’s Dreamsicle collection has been popular with mass-market consumers.

Students also are embracing recycled products. Mead is offering 100% recycled notebooks and folders, both with 30% post-consumer waste. Carolina Pad’s popular eco-friendly line, Sasquatch, has fresh, updated looks this year.

Paper Mate also has introduced a pen and mechanical pencil that is made with a majority of biodegradable components, which will naturally decompose in the soil or home compost in a year. The pen comes in black, blue, red or purple ink and retails for $2.50.

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Jewel-Osco celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with ‘Sabor de la Herencia Hispana’

BY Allison Cerra

ITASCA, Ill. A Midwest food and drug retailer is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with its third annual VIP reception to honor the culture and significant achievements of the Hispanic community.

Jewel-Osco is holding its signature event, “Sabor de la Herencia Hispana” (Taste of Hispanic Heritage), on Sept. 22, and is dedicated to recognizing the continuous efforts and outstanding contributions made by leaders from the civic, business and nonprofit sectors of the community. During the VIP reception, Jewel-Osco will honor three social service agencies for their efforts and their commitment to enriching the Hispanic communities they serve. This year, Jewel-Osco will award a total of $15,000 in grants to Association House, Namaste Charter School and The Resurrection Project.  The work of these organizations reflects Jewel-Osco’s pledge to support initiatives that mirror the company’s charitable giving strategy, which focuses on three areas: hunger relief, nutrition education and environmental stewardship, the retailer said.

The event also will highlight the unique flavors and richness of Latin cuisine, by showcasing exclusive dishes developed by culinary students from Chicago’s St. Augustine College.

“We are proud to observe Hispanic Heritage Month with an event that celebrates the culture and traditions of the Latino community,” said Jewel-Osco president, Keith Nielsen. “‘Sabor de la Herencia Hispana’ supports the culinary talent of Hispanic youth and recognizes the exceptional contributions of this community.”

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Safeway donates $25K, food and supplies to benefit San Bruno victims

BY Allison Cerra

PLEASANTON, Calif. Following a devastating gas explosion in San Bruno, Calif., the philanthropic arm of Safeway announced it will donate $25,000 to the American Red Cross to help those affected by the disaster.

Safeway also said it would provide food, supplies and grocery gift cards to families who were impacted. Roughly 80 Safeway stores in the surrounding counties are collecting donations at checkstands for the American Red Cross’ San Bruno relief effort.

Safeway operates 1,712 stores in the United States.

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