Retailers are reeling from disappointing back-to-school sales as families pinch pennies in the dour economy.
“It was a lousy start,” retail consultant Walter Loeb told USA Today.
July retailer revenues rose by just 3.5%–the slowest pace since March, says the International Council of Shopping Centers.
Traditionally, the back-to-school season is a boon to retailers and is second only to Christmas sales.
This year, however, with the American economy continuing to hemorrhage jobs, 50 million Americans living below the federal poverty line, and a record 1 in 5 families now relying on food stamps, parents are holding out for deals or cutting back altogether.
“A vast number of shoppers are sticking to their shopping lists and are being very deal-driven,” says Ken Perkins of RetailMetrics.
Wharton School of Business professor Barbara Kahn told Reuters the lackluster back-to-school sales are in alignment with the broader economic outlook.
“It’s consistent with what we’ve been seeing from economic data: the recovery is sluggish,” said Kahn.