Episode 1: Lessons Learned from Back to School

Announcer: Welcome to this episode of “60-second Retail” - a BDO podcast keeping you in-the-know on events and trends in retail and consumer products industry impacting your bottom line, in just a few short minutes.

Natalie: Hello, my name is Natalie Kotlyar. I am the National Leader of the Retail and Consumer Products industry group at BDO USA.  In this episode I would like to discuss what lessons did we learn from the 2020 back to school season.

COVID has created a significant amount of uncertainty and the widespread adoption of e-learning left consumer spending expectations up in the air this fall. What will consumers be buying and when?  It seems that not only is spending amounts and categories the big question, but when will retailers feel the full effect of BTS shopping, is it over?

Rather than the usual Q3 back-to-school season spike, school-related spending may lengthen and stretch out over several months as school districts continue to make decisions around in-person vs. virtual classrooms.

What did we learn from BTS so far? For retailers—just like schools and universities—flexibility is key.

Retailers can no longer expect and rely on traditionally stable seasons of increased spending, especially going into the holidays.

With greater emphasis on products that support a comfortable and improved remote working and learning environment, retailers in the consumer electronics sector and others that serve essential COVID-related needs may have record years. Students as well as parents, will continue to have needs in these areas… as many of us continue to learn and work from home… we want to upgrade… upgrade our TVs, monitors (or maybe get the second or third monitor), upgrade your living room or dining room!

Although discretionary spending is still down, recent apparel sales results may have many retailers holding out hope for the remainder of 2020.

Both H&M and Zara have reported revenue bounce backs from the pandemic during the back-to-school season. And as expected, Apparel retailers in the athleisure category also continue to do well.

In conclusion, while the growth of consumer retail spending was slower in August, the increasing month-over-month sales figures may point to a rise in consumer confidence and optimism about returning to normalcy soon – potentially leading to more spending later in the year.

Announcer: And that concludes this episode of BDO’s “60-second Retail” podcast.  Don’t forget to tune in for the next episode!  To find more information on our hosts, guests, BDO’s services, or listen to previous episodes of “60-second Retail”, please visit www.bdo.com/60-second-retail.



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