Thursday, September 3, 2009

Back-at-School Shopping

Retailers waited for the entire month of August, and for most, the back-to-school shopping season never took shape. Students and parents put off the shopping until the students were actually back in class, as most are by now. Back-to-school shopping turned into back-at-school shopping.

It’s a tough challenge for clothing retailers when this year’s biggest fashion trend is to wear last year’s clothes (or, for those who insist on being super-trendy, clothes from three or four years ago). But it was not just clothing retailers that saw declines. Nearly all retailers are reporting declines from last year, and those that are reporting same-store sales down only 4 percent are considered to be doing especially well.

A rush of shoppers during the coming holiday weekend is still a possibility, but you have to wonder how many shoppers are putting off their fall shopping because it is hard to scrape together the money to buy anything. If that’s the case, then sales may trickle in over the next two months, a complete break from the sharp seasonality retailers have come to expect in late summer and early fall.