Amid Strong Projections, Macy's Kicks Off BTS

Backpacks-BDestroyed denim. Fedoras. Capes. This can only mean it’s time for retailers to start wooing underage fashionistas with back-to-school fashion ideas, and Macy’s is first out of the gate, offering widespread promotions, style advice, and family-themed events to increase store traffic.

Those include fund-raising tie-ins for Reading is Fundamental: Customers donate $3 at any Macy’s (all of which goes to RIF) and get a $10 off coupon for in-store purchases of $50 or more. And then there’s the 7th annual spelling bee, which allows kids ages 8 to 11 to participate at 27 different stores. (Winners this year get an iPad and $100 Macy’s gift card.)

Earlier this year, Macy’s announced a massive Millennial initiative, rethinking its merchandising, marketing and digital efforts in order to better connect with younger shoppers, and those changes are already evident. It’s using microsites and text-to-enter sweepstakes to market fall trends that include girlie grunge, trapper hats, and tutu skirts. For back-to-dorm shopping, for example, the microsite allows for personalized wish lists, and sweepstakes for $500 gift cards. 



And there are signs that moms may smile upon Macy’s and other department stores this season. While there have been plenty of industry concerns that spending will be subdued as families still feel economically pinched, a new survey from School Family Media, a marketing and media services company parents of kids in K through 8, finds that mothers are planning to spend more on back-to-school shopping this year.

The poll, which included 1,500 women, found that a greater percentage of women indicated they were going to spend more this year than in the same survey last year. And they plan on spending $641.14. That’s a 6% increase from the National Retail Federation’s 2011 back-to-school survey, where moms anticipated spending $603.63. (A spokesperson for the NRF says its survey will be released next week.) 

But the wallet-wielding mothers in the School Family Media survey say value and promotional offers strongly influence their shopping, with 76.2% ranking price, coupon or promotional offer as the primary factor in where they shop. Convenience of location came in second, at 56.5%.

An interesting twist is that moms are in no hurry to finish shopping, which could push stores to deeper and deeper discounts as the back-to-school wears on. A full 25% of respondents say they don’t intend to finish until kids are back in the classroom.

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