How to get a piece of your community’s back-to-school pie

July 10, 2017

Back-to-school spending is expected to top $857 billion in 2017

Experts say back-to-school spending will grow by 4% over 2016. That means this month and August are expected to account for 17% of total retail sales for the year. Are you ready? Grab as big a piece of the pie as you possibly can with these back-to-school ideas.

Tax-exempt weekends

Not every state offers tax-exempt weekends, but if your state does, capitalize on it. The 2 biggest purchases at this time of year are clothing and electronics. However, sports equipment and dorm accessories are close behind. Tax-exempt items vary by state so check to see when your state’s tax-exempt weekends are and what’s included.

Don’t forget the basics

Back-to-school checklist exampleAlthough you’re constantly following the latest trends, remember back-to-school shopping is often about the basics. Everybody needs new jeans, tops, sweaters, etc. Create your very own Back-to-School checklists. Here’s an example from Home Ever After for a middle school girl. Create checklists for boys and girls, college students and even teachers. Fill your shop with these items. If there are things you don’t carry, find another local shop to tie-in with who does. Make sure you have plenty of accessories that go along with these basics too.

Put together fun Back-to-School gift baskets

When headed back to school, every student needs notebooks, pens and pencils. It’s easy to put together gift baskets to sell or give away as prizes. If your market is older, create a teacher’s gift basket or dorm essentials. Include a mug, snacks, clothing items, notebooks and a poster. If your market is Moms, put together boy and girl baskets with the basics, but also include fun, educational games or videos. Every basket should have a store gift card as well as a flyer for upcoming events. Consider offering an iPad or Kindle as a grand prize giveaway. Providing a name, address and email is the only way to register.

Capitalize on local school spirit

Most schools, even grade schools have a mascot. They sell t-shirts, sweatshirts and more as a fundraiser. Trade with your local school to get some giveaway items, or arrange to be an outlet for sales of school spirit merchandise. Offer a percentage of sales for a particular day to go back to the school; agree to promote school events in your shop and/or sponsor a school ball team or drama program. Get involved in your local school’s events, parades, picnics and Teacher Appreciation Days. Community involvement is always a plus.

Back-to-School isn’t just for kids

Throw a fun “You survived the summer” party for parents. Have your event the first weekend after kids are back in school. Offer wine and cheese, or create a tropical theme. Set up a table with adult coloring books and pens. Create “survival” merchandise specials. Make sure the evening celebrates the art of parenting. Or, adopt a teacher at a local school near your shop and collect school supplies. Provide a special one-day gift or discount for all teachers.

Tap into Millennials headed back to college

Millennials (the youngest are still in college), love the idea of being eco-friendly. As students return to your area colleges, provide special incentives for buying secondhand. Host a fashion show or a dorm decorating class. Once again, use the school’s mascot to your advantage.

For more ideas on nabbing those back-to-school shoppers, read How to reel in those back to school shoppers.

Deb McGonagle

I have been a writer for various forms of marketing for over 40 years. I've written my share of radio and TV scripts, magazine and newspaper ads as well as direct mail brochures and newsletters. Currently, as the Marketing Coordinator for Traxia, home of SimpleConsign software, I've moved into blog posts, eBooks and website text. It's been an ever changing and ever challenging journey but I've loved it all along the way.