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Britt Beemer Lowers Back-to-School Spending Forecast

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Consumer behavior expert Britt Beemer, Chairman and Founder of America’s Research Group (ARG), lowered his forecast for back-to-school spending to minus 4.0% below last year’s sales results, from a minus 1.5% that he announced just three weeks ago. The primary reason for the dramatic change in Beemer’s forecast is fallout from the weakest summer-job hiring in over 20 years. In addition, back-to-school spending on apparel and shoes has been extremely sluggish due to parents having less money, higher debt levels and higher gas prices, as revealed in the latest ARG interviews. In past years, the dollars from students’ summer jobs amounted to 19% of back-to-school spending by high school juniors and seniors and college-age students, according to Beemer. “As a result of the lack of summer jobs for young people, this year more back-to-school spending must come from the parents who are ‘urging’ their students to shop in stores that they can afford,” says Beemer, “and waiting for sales of 50% off to 60% off before buying.” Parents telling their children where they can shop is an important shift in consumer behavior, according to Beemer. “As a result of frugal-minded parents directing their children not to shop at stores where they must pay full retail prices, Wal-Mart and Target are gaining ground, with JCPenney also doing well,” Beemer said. Thanks to his expertise in consumer behavior since founding America’s Research Group twenty-nine years ago, CEO Britt Beemer is a key resource and advisor to leading brands and top retailers in the nation. His new book, The Customer Rules, will be published by McGraw-Hill in September 2008.

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