Retailers lure early back-to-school shoppers

Wal-Mart will release sales numbers this week as it hopes to attrack back-to-school shoppers.

It's a big week for retailers, with Wal-Mart and Kohl's releasing earnings reports tomorrow. Macy's reports this morning. The figures will give a glimpse at the strength of the back-to-school shopping season.

Just like during the holiday-shopping season, retailers want to coax people to shop early, but, especially after the recession, many consumers wait until the last minute. So many stores have borrowed a strategy from the holidays.

“We started to see commercials, promotions, fliers coming out before Fourth of July,” says Matthew Ong, a retail analyst with NerdWallet.com. “In some ways the back-to-school creep is not totally foreign, because we saw the same creep happen with Black Friday last year into Thanksgiving.”

Paul Swinand, an equity analyst with Morningstar says he expects this year’s back-to-school season to be better than in the last few years, citing what’s called the omnichannel approach.

People shopping online, or on tablet, or on smartphone and being offered deals that maybe aren’t in the store, but maybe are a permutation of the inventory that they have in the store,” he says.

Swinand says these online strategies are starting to smooth out the choppiness of post-recession buying habits. 

About the author

Kate Davidson is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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