Home CE Retail Are We Looking at a “New Normal” for Back-to-School Season?

Are We Looking at a “New Normal” for Back-to-School Season?

Are We Looking at a “New Normal” for Back-to-School Season?

Before the pandemic, the back-to-school retail season was typically a time of crowded department stores and screaming children. And, even though consumer shopping habits have mostly returned to normal, numbers are expected to remain below pre-pandemic levels. CNBC reports that 2022 had numbers well below the average, and the CEO of OL USA warns “a normal peak season” is not on the docket for 2023.

What does that mean for consumer electronics and holiday inventory? Orders for retailers typically backdate at least six months, which was the peak of inflation during 2023. CE retailers like RXO are now attempting to predict how inflation and uncertainty will affect holiday shopping, and if so what industries will be hit the hardest. Right now, it is too soon to tell. 

Inflation is not the only thing affecting holiday retailers. There is a shrink in inventory that can not be fully accounted for or addressed. CNBC reports that between retail theft, worker error, administrative issues, and damage, there is still a percentage of missing inventory that no one understands.

A common hope is that the peak retail season will experience a spike after a slow 2022. This perception is perpetuated by a strong start to back-to-school shopping and lower gas prices. The average price per gallon has fallen from $5 to $3.50 in the last year and a half. Linda Giesecke head of demand analysis at ESAI Energy predicted in an article by The New York Times that this drop in price is causing “demand and supply [to be] relatively evenly balanced.” 

More money in consumers’ pockets is a good sign for retailers; however, a loss of inventory and inflation may hinder purchasing. It is too soon to tell how this will affect CE purchasing, but there is hope for higher numbers than 2022.