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Back to School Season

Mary McIlrath, Senior Vice President

Sorry, kids, we’re afraid it’s true.  Amazon Prime Day(s) start July 15, and that means parents are looking for bargains to get you out of the swimming pool and back into the schoolhouse.  RetailMeNot released data showing that parents are expecting to spend $507 on all kinds of supplies in 2019—from clothes to electronics and other basic necessities.  That’s up from $465 last year.  And, they’re shopping earlier— 63% of parents in 2019 are planning to shop in July or earlier, vs. 60% who said the same in 2018. 

Kids, run through the sprinkler while you still can!

Stop hyperventilating, though, we have good news on the amusement front.  Toys ‘R’ Us is planning to make a modest return for the holiday season.  They used to generate about $7 billion in sales each year, says former executive Richard Barry at a recent toy conference, until fading into bankruptcy oblivion last year.  Toy companies were left to rely on Amazon, Target, and Walmart to get their products into kids’ hands.  They’re only planning a handful of brick and mortar stores and a website, but it’s better than nothing.  In our Holiday Wish List survey for 2018, the youngest kids in 1st-4th grades turned their backs on the defunct retailer, saying that if they were gifted $100 on a gift card, they’d most want it to be from Target, Walmart, or Amazon (in descending order of preference).  Smart kids—they could ostensibly stock up on treats as well as toys from any of those retailers.

Speaking of treats, kids are growing ever more enthusiastic about Chick-fil-A, which has expanded its footprint and its reputation for family service in the last few years.  Their themed “Date Knights” for moms and sons and “Daddy-Daughter Date Nights” for dads and their little princesses have been on parents’ radars for several years.  What fun to go out, grab a chicken meal, meet a costumed cow, and get a balloon?  They were also on the “friendly” forefront, extending simple kindnesses like saying “please” and “thank you” to customers.  Plus, they offer a Mom’s Valet service that allows a parent in the drive-thru to reserve a table inside the restaurant to eat with their kids.  We could go on and on—Chick-fil-A has a ton of innovative promotions and policies that make them family-friendly.

So take heart, kids of America.  You’ve still got a few weeks to swim and play pick-up baseball and run around outside or online.  Live it up in these last carefree days before you have to think about packing up the backpack and a PB+J again and studying for your spelling test.

OUR POV:
With events like Amazon Prime Day(s), provisioning for families is becoming less and less seasonal.  Smart brands are jumping on the free-shipping bandwagon to get their products in parents’ hands, especially before the next round of Chinese tariffs hit consumers in the wallet.  Think ahead—and kids, seriously, think about shopping again at the place where “a kid can be a kid.” 

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