Manufacturers, retailers provide minimal incentives to buy tablets, microwaves, compact refrigerators

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The FINANCIAL — During the frenetic back-to-school shopping season, US consumers had access to substantial price cuts on television sets, according to a GfK analysis of advertised discounts. Manufacturers and retailers offered savings of 9% on TV sets, compared to pre-back-to-school prices; last year, TV discounts averaged just 6% during the same time of year.

By contrast, US consumers received minimal or no incentives to buy several other high-demand items for college students and others heading back to school.

Tablet prices were reduced by just 2%, or an average of $7.74; that percentage is the same as in 2014.

Compact refrigerators were discounted 3% during the back-to-school season; but, since last year, advertised prices on these items have fallen dramatically, from $183 to $119.

Microwave ovens cost 2 cents more during the back-to-school period this year.

Laptops and Desktop Computers were consistently discounted at or below 3%.

Wearable technology prices were cut just 1%, versus 3% last year.

The new study from GfK’s Promotion and Causal Retail team compared advertised prices for the same SKUs before and during the back-to-school season, and also year-to-year during this time period. The analysis covered retail print circulars in over 80 key US markets, from July 15 through the first week of school (which was the first week of September this year).

In total, the frequency of back-to-school advertising this year was up 5% versus the same period last year for the key categories GfK examined. In some cases, categories were heavily promoted, but discounts were still small. In Desktop Computers, for example, GfK recorded a surge of 24% in advertising activity year over year; yet the category had discounts in the 2% range.

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“Overall, back-to-school advertising is increasing, which shows that retailers are banking on key sales as they head into the holiday period,” said James, Kennedy, Managing Director of GfK’s Promotion and Causal Retail team. “However, retailers are choosing instead to promote SKUs that were not advertised in the weeks leading up to back-to-school. This means that retailers are using this time period to introduce new and different models into the market.”

GfK’s Promotion and Causal Retail researchers help clients gauge the return on their investments in causal marketing, including printed vouchers, online offers, and in-store promotions. GfK identifies and analyzes all pricing, placement, and promotions at stock-keeping unit (SKU) level, while they are live, and can also monitor the impact on sales.


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