The back-to-school retail report card is looking pretty good for the 2012 back-to-school shopping season, but U.S. retailers are working hard to make it better. Even though back-to-school deals helped U.S. retail sales rise a healthy 0.8% in July, it seems that shoppers have been playing a game of back-to-school chicken with retailers, hoping to force some last-minute, last-ditch back-to-school shopping super sales for the 2012 back-to-school shopping season.
If they hold out long enough, consumers will undoubtedly win with the largest U.S. retail chains this year. Retailers are always eager to use back-to-school sales figures to fabricate some investor optimism for fast-approaching Christmas shopping season.
For many U.S. retailers like Apple (AAPL), the 2012 back-to-school deals began before the 2011-2012 school year was even completed. But just to make certain that they get their fair share of the 14% increase in back-to-school spending predicted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), U.S. retailers will be heavily invested in both online and back-to-school deals and sales over the next three weeks or more.
In addition to the back-to-school deals that have been running all summer, retailers like Amazon.com (AMZN), Macy's (M), Office Depot (OD), Kohl's (KSS), Children's Place (PLCE), and Dollar General (DG) have more recently joined the back-to-school promotion fun with deals and sales on everything remotely related to school and back-to-school activities.
By the way, if you have noticed a increased focus by retailers on the back-to-college market, it isn't your imagination. College enrollment for 2012 is at a record level of around 21 million students, creating a niche market that retailers are keen to capture not just for the 2012 back-to-school shopping season, but also for many shopping years to come.