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What Department Stores Are Doing to Attract School Shoppers



Key shopping destination

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the importance of the back-to-school season for department stores. According to an update released by the NRF (National Retail Federation) in mid-August, the average family with children in grades K-12 completed about 48% of their back-to-school season shopping by the beginning of August. However, 22% of the families surveyed still hadn’t started their back-to-school shopping at that point.

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When shoppers were asked where they would go for the rest of their back-to-school shopping, 51% said that they would shop at department stores. This makes department stores the second-most-preferred shopping destination—only trailing discount stores where 53% of surveyed customers intend to finish their back-to-school season shopping.

The NRF survey is conducted by Proper Insights & Analytics. It also showed that among back-to-college shoppers, ~42% would like to complete their shopping in a department store.

Department stores’ initiatives

For the back-to-school season, JCPenney (JCP) launched Xersion athletic school shoes for kids. The company also added Nike (NKE) girls to its kids’ area in 350 stores for the back-to-school season.

Macy’s (M) partnered with Sir Elton John and Lady Gaga to create Love Bravery, a limited-edition line of clothing and accessories. The Love Bravery line targets back-to-school and college shoppers with attractive merchandise including shirts, sweats, outerwear, clutches, backpacks, water bottles, and skateboards.

Nordstrom (JWN) continues to attract young consumers through key partnerships with brands like Madewell. In July 2016, the company announced plans to expand its partnership with Madewell by adding the brand to an additional 20 stores this fall. Kohl’s (KSS) is also offering a wide assortment of wardrobe essentials including shoes, denim, and tees from popular brands like Nike, Levi’s, Adidas, Converse, Mudd, and SO.

Together, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Kohl’s account for 0.13% of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY).

In the next part of this series, we’ll discuss the importance of online channels in the back-to-school season.


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