Expectations for back-to-school spending may be up or down this year, depending on which consumer survey is consulted.

back-to-school spending, consumer, retail pharmacy, retail, Greg Jacobson, National Retail Federation, America's Research Group, Consumer Mind Reader, Marketing to Moms Coalition, Deloitte, Nielsen Co., Walgreen, CVS

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Inside This Issue - News

Back-to-school shopper needs targeted

August 16th, 2010

NEW YORK – Expectations for back-to-school spending may be up or down this year, depending on which consumer survey is consulted.

But retail pharmacy operators who provide walk-in clinics are looking to capture business from pre-college and college students requiring physical exams and immunizations before heading back to class.

The outlook for back-to-school (B-T-S) and back-to-college spending varies widely among different poll-takers. The National Retail Federation’s annual survey predicts that the average American family will spend $606.40, up from $548.72 last year.

Total B-T-S spending is expected to reach $21.35 billion, while back-to-college spending is projected to hit $33.7 billion.

On the other hand, America’s Research Group’s latest Consumer Mind Reader survey finds that 24.2% of parents plan to spend less this year than last, with a majority (52.4%) citing limited funds as the reason. Another poll by the Marketing to Moms Coalition, conducted in June, finds that B-T-S spending could decline 10% or more.

Deloitte LLP’s annual survey, however, found a more upbeat outlook, with 28% of the 1,050 parents polled stating they plan to spend more than last year, while 17% expect to spend less.

Nielsen Co., meanwhile, predicts a 1.7% increase in dollar sales to $2.6 billion that will be driven by price increases, since unit volume is expected to decline 5.3%.

Nielsen sees drug stores among the retail winners this year, along with supercenters and dollar stores. Particularly with the H1N1 flu outbreak last year, such health-related items as hand sanitizers have moved up on the shopping list for many B-T-S shoppers.

This year both Walgreen Co. and CVS Caremark Corp. are looking to drive store traffic by offering B-T-S and sports physicals through their in-store clinics.

At Walgreens’ Take Care Clinics, for instance, physical exams administered by board-certified nurse practitioners and physician assistants are available for a $35 fee through September 30.