Target begins big back-to-school sales push — with emphasis on savings

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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back to school
Target is going all out to attract back-to-school shoppers.

It’s only the beginning of July, but Target Corp. is already out of the gate with its back-to-school offerings.

The discount giant unveiled a multifaceted, omnichannel back-to-school promotional campaign with new initiatives aimed at teachers and college students and an emphasis on savings. Target said the the majority of its back-to-school items are priced under $10, with deals starting at less than $1

The offerings include a new 20% discount on a one-time purchase for college student members of the Target Circle loyalty program, through Saturday, Sept. 3.

Target is also extending its annual Teacher Prep Event, available via Target Circle to all homeschool teachers, teachers working at daycare centers and early childhood learning centers, university or college professors, and vocational/trade/technical schoolteachers with valid identification, from Sunday, July 17 to Saturday, Sept. 10. This is nearly six weeks longer than the 2021 Teacher Prep Event, with discounts including 15% off school supplies.

The Target app will offer digital tools, including School List Assist and College Registry, that enable access to classroom supply lists or college wish lists, with orders via a single click. In addition, all Target stores in states with sales-tax holiday events will not charge sales tax during those events, and the three-day Target Deal Days event will feature savings on back-to-school items.

“We know the back-to-school season signals an important milestone for millions of families across the country — and we’re here to help by introducing even more ways for guests to save and find everything they need all in one convenient location,” said Jill Sando, executive VP and chief merchandising officer, Target. “From supplies and stylish apparel to snacks and the latest electronics, guests can count on Target to make the most of their budgets, with thousands of items under $10.”

Back-to-school sales look promising
Target is aiming to serve back-to-school shoppers as forecasts predict a healthy sales season, with growth aided by inflation which is at 40-year-high levels. According to veteran retail forecasters Customer Growth Partners (CGP), back-to-school sales are expected to slow “sharply” compared to a banner 2021, but still hit a new all-time record.

CGP expects back-to-school sales to slow from 2021’s torrid 13.1% pace — the highest ever seen — and grow by 5.5%   to a new record of $812 billion. That’s up from $769 billion in 2021. (The traditional back-to-school season starts after the Fourth of July and extends through Labor Day.)

In another optimistic forecast, retail sales are expected to grow 7.5% (excluding automotive) year-over-year during the critical back-to-school period, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks spending across all payment forms. Sales are anticipated to increase 18.3% compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

Department stores are expected to be a noteworthy back-to-school winner as the sector continues its recent rebound with 15 consecutive months of sustained growth, predicted Mastercard. The season is anticipated to drive the department store sector up 13% year-over-year and 27.3% compared to 2019.

Another winner will be physical retail as consumers return to stores to try on new sizes and browse the latest fashions in person. In-store shopping is expected to grow 8.2% year-over-year and 9.9% compared to 2019.