August 15, 2009

Back-to-school shopping season a bust

This year's back-to-school shopping season promises to be the worst one in decades for retailers, industry analysts say.

Halfway through the season, consumers are continuing to hang onto their wallets as job fears trump spending, making for gloomy sales projections, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The average family with school-age children is spending nearly 8 percent less this year than last, the National Retail Federation estimated, while retail researcher ShopperTrak called for back-to-school traffic to be down 10 percent from last year's levels, the newspaper said.

This is going to be the worst back-to-school season in many, many years, added Craig Johnson, of retailing consultant firm Customer Growth Partners.

Research company IBISWorld reported this week that back-to-school spending would take a tumble in nearly every category compared with year-earlier figures, including clothing (down 5.4 percent), footwear (4.4 percent) and electronics (1.8 percent), while old-fashioned school supplies such as notebooks are set to remain steady, the newspaper said.