Back to school is one of the busiest seasonal shopping events in Europe. Parents collectively part with billions of euros, preparing their children for the new academic year.
Goods from school uniforms to stationery are in high demand, and shops see traffic uplifts on key days as the long summer holidays draw to an end. We’ve analysed data for recent years and set out our predictions for when stores need to be ready for the back to school rush.
UK back to school traffic predictions
British retailers will need to make the most of back to school sales opportunities. They’ll be looking for respite from the economic uncertainty and consumer confidence decline that Brexit chaos has caused throughout 2019. The week following the Summer Bank Holiday (Monday 26th August 2019) is typically the week before schools go back in the UK. This generally sees uplift in average midweek shopper traffic.
While the days which have seen the largest uplift against the average have varied over the past four years, ShopperTrak data confirms that the Tuesday has consistently been up by at least +11%. For 2019 it’s likely that Tuesday 27th August will see the largest uplift against average traffic.
In terms of the busiest day, this will of course be the Saturday after the Bank Holiday, but only a small uplift in week-on-week traffic should be expected, with week-on-week (WOW) being traffic only being up +3% on average over the past three years.
- One of the largest WOW changes can be expected on Tuesday 27th August after the Bank Holiday, which is also likely to see the largest average uplift in traffic.
France back to school traffic predictions
Analysts will watch with interest to see if the gilets jaunes movement will have an impact on back to school sales. However as school essentials are needed by children regardless of the political climate, hopes are high that the impact will be minimal.
The autumn term in France begins on Monday 2nd September. Often the largest uplifts in traffic can be seen on the final day of the summer holidays. For the past four years, the last day of the holidays has seen week-on-week traffic increase by almost +15% on average.
For the past four years, the penultimate day of the holidays has also seen (on average) a +15% uplift in WOW traffic.
A larger increase in average traffic can be expected if the last day of the holidays falls earlier in the week. In 2015, the last day fell on a Monday, resulting in average traffic being up +24%.
- In France back to school footfall will see a notable WOW uplift on Saturday 31st August and Sunday 1st
Germany back to school traffic predictions
German schools go back early – in the second or third week of August, depending on the region. Our data confirms there hasn’t been a significant change in traffic trends in Germany over the past couple of years in the run up to the back to school season.
In 2015 there was a clear uplift in average midweek traffic in the last week of July (up +10% on average), and in 2016 and 2017 this was seen in the last week of July all the way through to the second week of August.
There was a slight change in trends in 2018 however, with only the first week of August seeing a small number of consecutive days have an uplift in average traffic (Monday to Thursday up +8% on average).
With dates for the second full week of August being slightly later this year, we can expect to see trends similar to that of 2015 with midweek traffic seeing larger uplifts.
- In Germany it’s likely that 7th, 8th and 9th August will see decent WOW uplifts in footfall as students prepare for the new academic year.
Italy back to school traffic predictions
The key back to school date in Italy this year is Monday 16th September. School holiday dates vary little between regions, although schools in Sicily start a few days later in September due to the hotter weather. There is an immediate drop in shopper visitor numbers when the schools go back in Italy, with week-on-week Monday traffic being down -12.5% on average over the past four years.
Results have been mixed over the past few years, with no clear pattern in trends in the run up to the end of the school holidays.
For the past three years, the Saturday prior to the schools going back has seen a small uplift in traffic. In 2016 and 2017 traffic was up +5.8% WOW on average, but this fell to +2% in 2018.
In April this year it was reported that Italy’s economy returned to growth in the first quarter of 2019, and the unemployment rate also improved in Q1. In this context, retailers enjoying improved consumer confidence will be expecting an additional boost from back to school this year.
- We predict that Saturday 14th September will enjoy a single digit WOW footfall uplift in Italy thanks to families shopping for school necessities.
Spain back to school traffic predictions
The Autumn Term in Spain gets underway around Monday 9th September. Looking at our data, no clear trends have emerged for Spain during the back to school period, with only small changes in traffic being seen.
The last week of the summer holidays does see some changes in average traffic midweek, with Monday to Thursday generally seeing a decent uplift each year (up +7% on average).
For the past two years, there has also been a small uplift in week-on-week traffic during the last week of the summer holidays. Midweek traffic was up by an average of +2%, with weekend traffic being slightly higher (Saturday average +17%, Sunday average +14%). A similar trend was not seen in 2015 and 2016 however, which potentially could be due to the last week of the holidays falling slightly later in the month, meaning people had more time to complete their shopping.
- We predict marked WOW uplifts on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th of September in Spain.