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Back to School Retail Trends & What They Mean for Small Business Owners


While summer travel accessories, warm weather apparel, and outdoor entertaining items can still be found on display at retail shops everywhere, it’s undeniable that the back-to-school shopping season is also already top of mind. How can small business owners stay ahead of the curve to capture sales during this busy time of year? Read on for a few tips and trends to know as we head into the 2022 back to school shopping season.

It’s Already Here
In the past, late July and August marked the start of the back to school season, when summer clearance sales would make room for inventory of school supplies, fall apparel and accessories. In recent years, however, that’s all changed - with consumers now shopping earlier and earlier to make those necessary back to school purchases. Much of this shift can be attributed to Amazon’s Prime Day each July, when the online retail giant slashes prices on virtually thousands of items, including top picks for students of all ages gearing up to return to the classroom. This trend has impacted physical retailers as well, with many looking to compete with Prime Day by offering their own July discounts. As a small business owner, you too should be prepared for consumers looking for a deal on back to school items this month.

Consumers are Budget-Conscious
A recent survey conducted by the National Retail Federation found that 84% of consumers expect to see higher prices this year when shopping for back to school and back to college purchases. With rising inflation and continuing supply chain issues worldwide, the current state of the U.S. economy is certainly having an impact on consumers’ mindset, and their wallets. What this means: you can expect your shoppers to be especially budget-conscious this back to school season. As a small business owner, consider ways you can help your shoppers make the most of their budgets, by highlighting competitive prices, or offering special promotional deals that will resonate with value-focused consumers.

Provide Extra Conveniences
From desk supplies and technology products to apparel and shoes, there is a lot that goes into back to school shopping and it can be overwhelming for families. To really stand out, be sure that your local business is providing extra conveniences that make the experience as quick and easy as possible. You can start by following the lead of national retailers like Target and Walmart, where shoppers can pick up pre-bundled kits of back to school supplies. Curate your own bundles of popular back to school items to be sold together. In doing so, you’ll create an easy “grab and go” option shoppers will appreciate.