Back-to-School Buying — and Hiring — Is in Full Swing

August is upon us, and for many families, that means a new school year is just weeks away. With that, many retailers are offering attractive discounts for families to stock up on their 2019-2020 school supplies, clothing and electronics, spending billions.

According to a recent survey conducted by Deloitte, K-12 back-to-school sales in the US will reach $27.8 billion this year. While those numbers are great news for the retail world, they do not occur in a vacuum. All those merchants will need staff to see those sales through — much of which they likely don’t yet have. And that means hiring for the next several weeks – or longer.

Though the season may be near its peak, with a total of 90% of shoppers expected to be actively shopping in late July and early August comprising 62% of all spend, there are late shoppers to accommodate. And these shoppers are expected to spend almost double that of those who shopped earlier, with an estimated average spend of $889 each.

Given the numbers, retailers need to be prepared to attract the right talent.

Streamlined approach. To deliver a streamlined hiring experience for candidates, retailers in this space must ensure they have deployed a successful hiring strategy that includes a technology-based workflow. Such an approach helps to optimize the process for hiring the best talent, which translates into great employees serving as strong brand ambassadors in-store. This, in turn, ensures that consumers have the best possible in-store experience, which helps boost brand affinity, customer satisfaction and repeat sales.

Where it happens. The good news for store owners and mass merchants is that the same shoppers that chose an in-store experience in the past will continue their back-to-school shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. According to the Deloitte survey, shoppers expected to spend $15.7 billion in brick-and-mortar stores, while $8.1 billion will be spent online; $4 billion in spend was undecided in terms of channel.

Across several product categories, mass merchants are still the preferred shopping channel at 88%, with the largest influence coming from interest in children’s clothing and accessories. Following this are online-only stores at 45%, dollar stores at 36% and specialty clothing stores at 30%.

Just the beginning. Back-to-school shopping marks the onset of retail season peaks, so the need for having great seasonal as well as traditional staff will increase over the next few months. In an earlier Staffing Stream post, I shared some insights on optimizing your seasonal hiring process as well as preparing for the upcoming peak season.

To learn more about Sterling, a provider of background screening and identity services, and its specialized solutions for the retail industry, click here.

Vincenza Caruso-Valente

Vincenza Caruso-Valente
Vincenza Caruso-Valente is general manager, retail and staffing, Sterling. Find her on LinkedIn.

Vincenza Caruso-Valente

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