Back-To-School Shopping

Are your kids or grandkids going back to school – or have they already started? Whether your children are young or not so young, you certainly know that the back-to-school season is one of the busiest times for retailers.

According to the National Retail Federation, families with children in elementary school through high school plan to spend an average $696.70, which is up from $684.79 last year. Overall, spending is expected to total $26.2 billion, down from last year’s $27.5 billion despite the increase in per-household spending.

Meanwhile, according to the NRF, families with college students are expected to spend an average $976.78, which is up from last year’s $942.17. All told, their spending is expected to total $54.5 billion, down from last year’s record $55.3 billion.

As part of our NCPulse program, we posted a video that asked NCP panel members how much they spent or expected to spend on back-to-school shopping. Most of the respondents to our survey said they spent $100 to $200 on school supplies, and some spent up to $500 on supplies and clothing for their children. 

Now, to be specific, the NRF said that clothing and accessories will top K-12 families’ expenses at an average $239.82, followed by electronics such as computers, calculators and phones ($203.44); shoes ($135.96) and supplies such as notebooks, pencils, backpacks and lunch boxes ($117.49). K-12 families plan to do most of their shopping at department stores (53%), discount stores (50%), online (49%), clothing stores (45%) and office supply stores (31%).

Among K-12 shoppers, teens are expected to spend an average $36.71 of their own money, up from $30.88 10 years ago, while pre-teens should spend $26.40, up from $11.94, 10 years ago.

As for college shoppers, the NRF said they plan to spend the most on electronics ($234.69), followed by clothing and accessories ($148.54), dorm and apartment furnishings ($120.19) and food items ($98.72). They plan to do most of their shopping online (45%), followed by department stores (39%), discount stores (36%), college bookstores (32%) and office supply stores (29%).

Remember: If you do any back-to-school shopping, please record these purchases! Many of these items are sold as multipacks. Please refer to the FAQs section on ncponline.com if you have questions about recording multipacks.

Also, be on the lookout for the next NCPulse video – this one is focused on the end of summer and Labor Day.

Speaking of Labor Day, the Panel Support Center will be closed on Monday, September 2.

I hope you have a nice, relaxing weekend.

Best Regards,
Taylor

Summer Reading

I love to read. Summer’s supposed to be the time to slow down and knock off a few good books. But unfortunately, doing a million things at work and at home, it’s hard to find time to read.

But I’ve found a few ways to help me read more. So even though summer is almost over, I’d like to pass along some tips, from the odysseyonline.com:

  • Bring a book wherever you go. If you don’t want to lug around a hardcover book, upload a book on your Smartphone or tablet, if you have either. You can read a few pages here or there, whether you’re waiting in line or during a break.
  • Listen to audiobooks. Even if you don’t have some written material in your hands, listening to audiobooks still counts!
  • Don’t be afraid to put down a book you’re not enjoying. Sometimes you start reading a book, then realize it’s not what you expected. So just put it down and start another one!
  • Join a book club. Interacting with others about a particular book can really get you motivated to read.
  • Set aside a specific time to read every day. Make a commitment to read, whether it’s just for 10 minutes or for an hour. Like anything else, if you schedule the time, you’re more likely to actually do what you wanted to do.

Let us know if you have any reading tips. Or, if you’re reading a really good book this summer!

And if you do buy a book, whether from a physical store or online, please record the purchase.

One last thing: Be on the lookout for another NCP Blog Scavenger Hunt! Details to come very, very soon!

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Best Regards,
Taylor

How ‘Bout A S’more!

When I think of summer, I think of making – and EATING! – S’mores. I have many wonderful memories of sitting by a campfire or BBQ and toasting – or, more often, burning – the marshmallows, then making the S’more sandwich of graham crackers, a wedge of chocolate, and of course, the now gooey marshmallow. YUM! It was so messy and delicious!

Good news regarding S’mores – Tomorrow, Saturday, August 10, is National S’mores Day!

Bucket of Apples

Tell us how you’ll be celebrating the day in the comments section. Or you can share some S’more memories or even some unique S’more recipes.

Here are some S’more fun facts, from realsimple.com:

  • The first known s’mores recipe was published in the Girl Scouts handbook Tramping and Trailing With the Girl Scouts in 1927. The snack was originally called “some mores.”
  • According to The S’mores Cookbook – and yes, there really is a S’mores Cookbook – Americans buy 90 million pounds of marshmallows every year. It’s estimated that, during the summer, approximately 50% of marshmallows sold are roasted for S’mores.
  • If you don’t have access to an open fire, there are still plenty of ways to make S’mores. The S’mores Cookbook explains how to make the treat on the grill, in the broiler, with a kitchen torch, in a microwave, or over a gas stove, candle, or Sterno.
  • The popularity of the original S’more has inspired American food manufacturers to create other chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker treats, including Pop-Tarts, cereal, ice cream, and even Goldfish.
  • Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham invented the graham cracker in 1829 in Bound Brook, NJ.
  • According to The Hershey Company, the company produces more than 373 million milk chocolate bars each year, enough to make 746 million s’mores.

There are also many different variations that can be used to make S’mores. Just check out the graphic from allrecipes.com:

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I hope you all have a tasty weekend!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Online Sales Of Private Label Products Are Growing

Like many shoppers, I’m always looking for a good deal. And often private-label products (or store brands) are a very good deal. (Private-label products are those manufactured by one company for sale under another company’s brand, and are usually less expensive than a “name” brand.)

Private-label products have always been associated with physical retail stores; in fact, those products account for 17% of total “brick-and-mortar” consumer packaged goods sales.

But now, private-label products are growing in the online world, as sales of these products account for 3% of online dollar sales, up from 1.3% two years ago.

In particular, several private-label product categories, such as aluminum foil, baby wipes, trash bags, paper towels, bath tissues, facial tissues, and disposable diapers, have seen significant online sales growth.

Amazon for one, has many private-label products. My husband purchased Amazon-branded batteries not too long ago.

What about you? Do you purchase private-label products, in either physical retail stores or online? If so, how do you think they compare to name-brand products? Let us know in the comments section.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Best Regards,
Taylor