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Back to School, Already?

Target, Amazon tout savings as parents, students and teachers start their seasonal buying
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Target BTS
Target it is bumping up discounts for back-to-school shoppers, including college students.

Now that the smoke from the Fourth of July fireworks has cleared, back-to-school season is ramping up. Target Corp., for its part, has announced some of its new products and promotions for parents, caregivers and students stocking up before classes begin.

To help inflation-weary consumers, Target announced various savings on back-to-school essentials. Among other offerings, the retailer is providing an increased college student discount through its through Target Circle program. From now through Sept. 4, collegians can get a 20% off one-time purchase coupon, up from 15% last year.

Deals extend to educators, too. Target is broadening its Teacher Prep Event that offers a 15% off one-time purchase coupon on school supplies and more. The teacher savings event runs July 17 through Sept. 10.

In addition to savings, Target is highlighting its assortment of back-to-school products, including store brands and national brands. The company claims that a majority of items are priced less than $10, with deals under a dollar.

Other retailers are also switching gears to early back-to-school promotions and inventories. Several items for that season are featured in Amazon’s upcoming Prime Days on July 12 and 13, for example. Meijer, Inc. has begun replacing summer items with back-to-school products in its seasonal areas.

Likewise, CPGs and brands are going to the head of the class in terms of school-season announcements. Nabisco shared that it is rolling out a new digital experience with the perennially popular Pokémon brand, a promotion that includes store displays, specially marked packages of products including Mini Nilla Wafers, Mini Chips Ahoy!, Mini OREO, and Ritz Bits and a sweepstakes that ends on Oct. 3.

As retailers and brands promote savings and giveaways, at least one credit card company thinks consumers will still shell out on back-to-school merchandise. The latest Mastercard SpendingPulse report projects that retail sales are expected to grow 7.5% from mid-July through Labor Day.

“Back-to-school is the second biggest season for retailers and is often looked at as an early indicator of retail momentum ahead of the traditional holiday season,” remarked Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and chairman of Saks Inc. “While Mastercard SpendingPulse anticipates growth across sectors, retailers will need to find innovative ways to entice shoppers as discretionary spending potentially stretches thin as a result of increasing prices.”

Some state governments are using tax holidays to help shoppers get their school staples without breaking their budgets. At least 18 states are participating in back-to-school tax holidays this year, including Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 6 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, with nearly 2,000 locations. Amazon is No. 2 and Meijer Inc. is No. 20.

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