Back to school shopping, conveniently coupled with tax-free shopping weekends in several states, make August and September the second most profitable shopping months of the year for many retailers (following the holidays, of course).

Additionally, the back-to-school season is a great time to get yourself (and your business) in the mindset of a student! Read on for easy ways to do so!


Is your business ready for the onslaught of moms, dads and students looking for the trendiest clothing, dorm decor and school supplies and accessories?


1. Smart Shoppers Are Spending Less – With so many price comparison websites and apps out there, savvy shoppers know better than to buy the first back-to-school item they come across. More and more customers are doing intense price comparison shopping both online and in-store before committing to a purchase. Do a little price comparison shopping yourself – how do products you carry or promotions you’re running match up to your competition? How can you add value to your customer’s experience so that they rely on you for their back-t0-school shopping needs?

2. Dorm Decor is In Demand! – While customers are spending less than last year on back to school supplies, they aren’t cutting back on dorm decor for their college students. Bedding, accent pieces and other personalized items to make students feel at home in their new dorm or apartment will continue to be at the top of most parents’ shopping lists. Does your retail business have anything in stock that would be perfect for a dorm room? If so, group the items together, and make a prominent display at the front of your store, so the “back to college” essentials are easy to find!

3. Parents Are Shopping Earlier AND Later – Many shoppers started purchasing back to school supplies in July when items first hit the shelves AND many shoppers are waiting until school is underway to see what their children really “need” in terms of clothing, tech accessories, etc. So, if you missed the early bird rush, have no fear! Many parents will be back in September to pick up additional items for their students. It’s a great opportunity to keep the “back to school” promotions alive at your location.

Take Your Business Back to School

Now that you know the trends, how can you get yourself (and your business) in the mindset of a student? No, we’re not talking about how they shop, but rather how they prepare themselves to go “back to school.”

1. Catch Up
The days of summer are waning. Customers, vendors and business partners are returning from vacation and getting back to work, and it’s time to catch up with them. Let them know what’s new in your world (via newsletter or social media), and ask what’s new in theirs. Set up times to reconnect with your business partners, and invite customers in for a special event.

2. Learn Something
Struggling with social media? Want to learn more about accounting for small businesses? Or, is there another topic you’d like to learn more on? Buy a book or take a class. It just feels right to learn something new in September.

3. Ask For Help
Students can turn to teachers, their parents or tutors when they need help with homework. Check out your small business development center or take part in business networking events to broaden your support network for the next year.


Event for Moms

Pink & Brown, an Alexandria, Virginia children’s store, is hosted a Mom’s & Mimosas…just as the kids went back to school!

It was a celebration for their key customer: moms. They’re offering mimosas, breakfast, early hours AND 10% off their back to school selection.Pink-Brown-Moms-and-Mimosas

This is a great example of targeting your local market with a specific celebratory event. And they’re promoting with this fun invitation via email.

Give Back to Those in Need

How can you help those in need while promoting your back to school specials?

  • Offer teachers a special discount when they show their ID.
  • Organize a school supply drive to benefit a local school or after-school program.
  • Provide coffee or catering for a teacher’s meeting at your local school.
  • “Adopt” a local school or library as your charity partner for the year.
  • Offer your coffee shop, bar or restaurant as a meeting space to local teachers or education groups.

School Lunches To Go

Alexandria-based farm-to-table café and market, Bon Vivant is located in the very family-/child-oriented Del Ray neighborhood. We love their take on school lunch:

market catering business

What a fun idea! Here’s why we love it:

  • Healthy food options for kids – always a plus, especially in a health-conscious/kid-friendly neighborhood!
  • 25 cents from each purchase can be donated back to your school, by the café.
  • Menu is planned out ahead of time, cutting down on decision-making time by parents and restaurant staff.
  • No commitment – customers can pick up and pay as they please.
  • Great packaging!