Back-To-School CE Sales To Rise 2%: Forecast

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The first major milepost on the road to Q4 is back-toschool, which can help set expectations for holiday sales.

This year, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) is forecasting a 2 percent increase in back-to-school spending on CE, compared with a 6.7 percent rise in 2010. The figure, based on U.S. Commerce Department data, covers the mid-July through mid-September period.

Total back-to-school revenue is projected to rise 3 percent to $39 billion, compared with last year’s 5 percent gain, the trade association said, led by shoes and apparel.

ICSC chief economist and research director Michael Niemira attributed the moderate forecast to tough comparisons with 2010, when spending recovered sharply from a steep drop in 2009. Nevertheless, consumer fundamentals have improved relative to the same time last year, he said, and “the overall message from this projection is that sales are still likely to be quite healthy.”

For Customer Growth Partners the outlook is even rosier. The market research firm and consultancy projects back-to-school spending to climb 6.2 percent, marking the best growth for the period since 2006, CNBC reported.

Within CE, laptops, tablets and e-readers are expected to lead the back-to-school parade said Staples, which is promoting the period by offering a 15 percent-off savings pass for $10 that can be purchased until Aug. 13 and used until Sept. 17. The No. 1 office-supply chain is also rolling out wireless departments to 400 stores in time for the season, and is offering students who show their college acceptance letters or student IDs a $100 rebate on select laptops via prepaid Visa card.

Apple is also offering a $100 rebate, in the guise of a gift card for use on its Mac App Store, the iTunes Store, the App Store and the iBookstore, when buying a qualifying Mac direct from the company or through a participating Apple Authorized Campus Store through Sept. 20. The gift card replaces Apple’s traditional iPod giveaway.


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