Oct 27, 2020
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2020 biggest back-to-school season in years for all age groups says Kantar

Oct 27, 2020

The year may have been hugely disrupted for schools, but that didn’t stop the recent back-to-school (BtS) season being the best for some time.

The year's back-to-school season has been the biggest since 2015

In fact, data from Kantar shows that the closure of schools and colleges during the spring and summer most likely helped the latest BtS season as it created a big need to buy new-season products.

Kantar said BtS 2020 was the biggest for five years, which meant kidswear has become the first major fashion category to return to growth since the start of the pandemic.

Overall, in the four weeks to September 20, kidswear sales rose 11% against an overall market rise of 6%. In the latest 12-week period, kidswear sales also rose 7%.

Kantar said that schools being closed before the summer holidays “meant more new purchases were needed for the new school year, as parents had done fewer ‘top-up’ shops”.

And it added that “staggered the opening of schools meant many left their shopping late, as they waited for confirmation that schools would reopen before they committed. Closed retailers and those operating by-appointment-only meant shoppers had to plan ahead and forced some to wait until later in the year to buy”.

Not that the late surge was anywhere near enough to make up for sales lost earlier in the year.

“Because of how long schools were closed, there still remains a significant gap, but it has been enough to offset ongoing declines in other childrenswear categories in the latest quarter,” Kantar explained. “The fact that penetration is down by 2% also suggests that there could still be some people to return to the market this year”.

The rise in kidswear was also reflected in clothing for older children with Kantar saying that sales during the BtS season rose 15% for those aged 16+. It added that most categories did relatively well, “but there appeared to be a shift towards more casualwear, with trainers taking precedent over shoes, and coats growing ahead of shirts, dresses or blazers”.

And it may come as a surprise that footwear overall performed relatively well and was one of the strongest performing categories, increasing by 6% overall in the 12 weeks to September”.  Footwear has struggled for much of this year but Kantar said that increase in trainer sales was key and saw that category doing better than traditional school shoes.

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