UK back to school market forecast to reach £1.7bn in 2019, says GlobalData

UK shoppers are set to spend £1.7bn on back to school items in 2019, with the market forecast to grow by 1.5%. This is only slightly outperforming the annual rise in the number of pupils due to population growth, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The back to school market is highly competitive among retailers, with many launching ranges earlier in the year to vie for a greater share of consumer spend. Amazon Prime Day, held this year from 15 to 16 July, offered Prime members the opportunity to stock up on essentials and branded items at lower prices, as well as encouraging back to school shoppers to start purchasing earlier – even before the 2018/19 academic year had ended.

Emily Salter, Retail Analyst at GlobalData, commented: “As back to school spend shifts earlier in July and August, retailers should encourage impulse purchasing with discounts and offers on smaller items such as accessories and stationery towards the end of the school holidays. This will drive additional spending among shoppers who have made their essential back to school purchases earlier in the summer. Additionally, retailers should ensure that promotions and marketing campaigns are timed effectively to successfully compete with other retailers and drive consumer awareness at key times, including Amazon Prime Day.”

Stationery and school accessories are expected to be the fastest-growing categories in the back to school market, at 2.0% and 1.9%, respectively. While stationery is still the category with the highest growth, this is slowing as retailers such as Smiggle and Paperchase struggle, and parents trade down as value retailers and discounters improve their ranges. School accessories will experience greater growth than last year due to consumer concern surrounding single-use plastics, boosting purchases of lunch boxes and water bottles in particular.

Salter concludes: “Uniform and sportswear make up a combined 76.4% of back to school spend and are predicted to rise by 1.5% in 2019 due to the growing demand for more trend-led and alternative uniform options such as skinny trousers and playsuits. The athleisure trend will also contribute to this growth, as secondary school children desire items such as shoes, bags and sportswear from brands with often higher price points, including Nike and Adidas.”

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