Back To School retail

The Lempert Report
August 19, 2014

The back to school shopping period for retailers is much like the holiday season, busy!

 From school supplies, dorm furniture and clothing there's a lot of shopping to be done to fill the needs of more than55 million K-12graders and about 22 million college and university students, as measured by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.    

So how can the food retail world fit in? Several ways. First, International students. According to the Institute of International Education,  the number of international students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities is nearing the 1 million-student benchmark. And in response to this, we think retailers would be smart to include global tastes and styles in both their food and nonfood assortments to appeal to them – and also to sell to the millions more student-peers whom they influence.

Also, most household budgets are still feeling the slow growth economy, and where many families have to compromise, we believe they often choose to do so with lower-priced electronics, apparel and related supplies. We don't think there's as much willingness to compromise on food, since they see the job of food as fuel for the brains and bodies. Unlike the freer spirit of summer, it matters more during the academic year to keep nutritious food on hand for quick meals and portable snacks (balanced by tasty treats) for when sit-down meals together aren’t possible.  Sit-down meals should be easy to prepare, and filled with varieties of tastes.  

Supermarket assortments should include larger, value-priced packages to stock up the pantry, single-serve snacks to eat on the run, and other package forms that conform to many kinds of eating occasions.