Retail's 2020 'Back to School' Disaster

Retail's 2020 'Back to School' Disaster


Remote learning appears to have choked off some back-to-school spending—although the effects have been uneven.

Data released from the Department of Labor on prices paid by consumers and received by businesses suggest that this years back-to-school spending was anemic in several categories. Consumers are still spending—prices rose by more than expected in September, a sign of healthy demand—but not on many categories that traditionally benefit from back to school shopping.

This is very obvious in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ measure of clothes for boys. Boys apparel prices are down 11.4 percent compared with a year ago. They dropped on a seasonally adjusted basis by 4.7 percent in September after falling 1.2 percent in August and being flat earlier in the summer

Girls clothing prices were nearly flat in September and are up 2.4 percent compared with a year ago. This suggests that parents may be spending a bit more

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