Is there still a back-to-school “surge”?

RetailWire panelists had a chance recently to comment on the “trend” of later and flatter BTS sales. I don’t think this is a new phenomenon by any means:

From my experience, the so-called surge of Back-to-School business turned into a smaller wave a long time ago. It’s driven in part by national retailers in markets where schools open from early August to post-Labor Day. But in particular it’s driven by consumers’ long-established pattern of buying closer to need: When your child outgrows her Nikes, it doesn’t matter whether it says March or August on the calendar.

There are other factors pushing apparel purchases past the opening of school: First, young shoppers’ desire to see what others are wearing — and fast fashion retailers’ ability to satisfy that desire. And, second, the change of seasons (to cooler weather) seems to happen later and later, pushing the “need to buy” incentive well past the first day of school.

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