Key Product Categories for the Back-to-School Season

Let’s take a look at some product categories that benefit from the back-to-school season. They include clothing and accessories, electronics or computer, shoes, and school supplies.

Sirisha Bhogaraju - Author

Sep. 22 2015, Updated 10:07 a.m. ET

uploads///BTS spending by category

Key product categories

As the back-to-school season ends, let’s look at the major product categories that tend to benefit from this shopping season. According to data provided by the National Retail Foundation (or NRF) for the 2015 back-to-school season, households are expected to spend the following:

  • $8.6 billion on clothing and accessories
  • $7.8 billion on electronics or computer-related equipment
  • $4.6 billion on shoes
  • $3.9 billion on school supplies

The top three categories for back-to-college spending are electronics or computer-related equipment, clothing and accessories, and dorm or apartment furnishings. The data are based on a survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.

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Department stores focus on key categories

As part of its back-to-school campaign, JCPenney (JCP) launched its Juniors Plus assortment in 200 stores in July 2015 to target the teens demographic. The company stated that the Juniors Plus assortment will expand to 400 stores by fall 2015.

Since July 2015, Macy’s (M) has promoted various clothing styles for back-to-school shoppers, including Bohemian style clothing, activewear, and various denim styles. Macy’s has also been offering attractive deals on top brands such as Celebrity Pink, Epic Threads, Jessica Simpson, Levi’s, Material Girl, XOXO, Ideology, and Nike (NKE) in activewear. Upscale department store Nordstrom (JWN) also provided a wide assortment for the back-to-school season across various product categories like apparel, shoes, and bags.

Kmart’s back-to-school collection for 2015 includes its Fifteen-Look Fashion Collection. This collection includes five tops and three bottoms that can be mixed and matched to create 15 looks. Kmart also includes special bundles for kids with items such as backpacks, lunchboxes, and notebooks in several themes like dogs or dinos, purples or plaids, and skaters or skulls. Sears Holdings (SHLD) is the parent company of Kmart.

In early August, Kohl’s (KSS) announced a partnership with actress Shay Mitchell to create an athleisure clothing line called Fit to Wander for the back-to-school season. When it comes to the back-to-college season, department stores are likely to benefit from the expected rise in demand for home furnishings, as 31% of college students are likely to live in a dorm room in 2015. Based on NRF data, the average college family is estimated to spend $126.30 on dorm and apartment furnishings in 2015, up from $96.70 in 2014.

JCPenney, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, and Sears Holdings together account for 0.7% of the portfolio holdings of the iShares Russell Mid-Cap ETF (IWR). Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Kohl’s together make up 0.2% of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY).


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