ow more than ever, kids, parents, and teachers are excited to get back to school. With the pent-up demand, back-to-school shopping is expected to be even bigger this year.
“BTS is likely to shape up as a season that not’s just better than last year, but one that even surpasses 2019. BTS season runs from July to September, CGP is forecasting a 16 percent year-over-year increase in retail sales, sending volume to a record $780 billion. On a two-year basis, BTS spending is expected to grow 25 percent from 2019’s $624 billion pace.”
- Vicki M. Young for the sourcingjournal.com
Back-to-school sales can help set the tone for the rest of the year, especially if you offer your clients unexpected items to their assortment. This could be your opportunity to open the door for sales in another area that your clients may not have thought about before.
When you think of back-to-school items in the promotional marketing/decorated apparel industry, it’s easy to immediately think of the typical school colored tee, blank hoodie and mesh gym shorts.
"When it comes to selling 'Back to School' items, we don’t think that just needs to strictly mean being used 'in-school' or 'on-the-field'."
But, what about thinking outside-of-the-box? At S&S we pride ourselves for always trying to think differently, while still keeping our finger on the pulse of the industry. So, when it comes to selling “Back-to-School” items, we don’t think that just needs to strictly mean being used “in-school or on the field.”
Let’s take a look at some different ideas you can work into your next BTS pitch, that might be outside of the norm, but could open your client’s mind up to more business in the future:
Socks are a great add on to any back-to-school bundle. SOCCO’S USA-Made Striped Crew Socks, aren't only the most comfortable you'll ever put on, they also come in a variety of school and team colors, along with some of fun prints as well.
With 90’s and Y2K fashion becoming a mainstream trend again, tube socks are making a major comeback. SOCCO’S sock collection is an easy addition to any BTS sale, especially with fashion today being so much about creating a unique look for yourself. Socks can give you that little extra pop of color to help complete your style.
In a New York Magazine article, celebrity stylist, Nicole Goodman, mentioned that, when using socks as an accessory, she likes to find a pair with just enough detail to stand out.
“If I want to really use my sock as an accessory, I’ll invest in a more unique design...Sometimes a pop of color, stripe on a sock can elevate your overall look”
- Nicole Goodman, celebrity stylist (from nymag.com by Tembe Denton-Hurst)
When we’re thinking of typical back-to-school uniforming, it’s not just the teachers and school staff that we have to think of. What about the parents who volunteer for crossing guard duty? You’ll want to make sure they’re staying safe, while guiding kids on the way to school.
Try offering a Kishigo “P-Series Mesh Vest” or safety beanie for the colder months. Although your BTS clients might not have a use for these now, it could be something they’ll think of adding to their supply of safety gear for future needs.
Back-to-school means back to the stands to cheer on your favorite team. More importantly, that also includes the “long-awaited” opportunity to tailgate before the games.
The Columbia PFG styles are perfect for this. Known as the “Florida Tuxedo” in the South, because they’re worn so frequently, they’ve got UPF 30 protection, making them perfect for parking lot “pregaming” or “grilling” with your friends. The Columbia "PFG Tamiami™ II Shirt" and "Terminal Tackle™ Long Sleeve Tee" are the most popular pieces in this category and will quickly become a goto favorite for sports fans who love the outdoors – especially since they can be used in business casual settings too.
And, what’s school spirit without adding in some vibrant prints to the mix? Fun patterns will help liven up tailgating experience even more. Try pitching styles like the MV Sport “Women's French Terry Off-the-Shoulder Sweatshirt" to spice up your client’s collection.
“After experiencing 14 months of restrictions and cancellations of outdoor events, it is our opinion that people are eager to get together to cheer on their team or listen to their favorite band...The demand of products for outdoor events is rising, and it is a good time to get prepared and connected with the buyers. The order size is typically large and worth the effort."
- Dan Taylor, president and CEO of BamBams (from Promo Marketing by Amanda L. Cole)
Toddler and Infant Styles
Don’t forget about the little ones and that “future (insert mascot)” toddler! Offering infant styles to your clients, when thinking about Back to School, is a must. Most decorators/ASI really only think about outfitting the specific ages/sizes that are attending the school, but they don’t always think to provide options for a “Future Jayhawk.”
One brand does this very well—LAT’s children’s brand Rabbit Skins. It’s unique in that they have so many of the fun, novelty items that no one else carries. They offer toddler and infant baseball tees, football tees, tutus, accessories, etc.
This opens up other avenues that clients may not be thinking about. You also have preschool programs that typically just give kids a novelty t-shirt. Why not offer them a cute football tee to show their school spirit on Fridays or on field trips?
Also, have your clients take a look at some other fun Rabbit Skins styles like the "Toddler Football Fine Jersey Tee", or "Infant Contrast Trim Premium Jersey Bib."
Remember, the main goal here isn’t to push your clients to buy these somewhat out-of-the-ordinary items immediately. It’s to open their eyes to new possibilities and let them know, these things are available. At the very least, they’ll remember you as the person to go to, when they’re looking for some fresh ideas.