School may be out, but Back-To-School is already in

Retailers are already pushing the Back-to-School shopping season, even though kids have barely gotten out of school for summer. There are simple reasons for why Back-to-School promotions are seemingly everywhere. Summer is a slow season for most retailers to begin with and back-to-school pretty much the only reason consumers to turn their wallet upside down and shake it hard until the holidays kick-off with Black Friday. On top of that, most retailers are mired in a brutal slump that started in 2007 and really kicked into full gear in September 2008. Getting people to spend these days take a lot ohard work, a lot of marketing, a lot of promotions and a lot of deals, specials, discounts, coupons, price cuts and other margin-denting offers.

Since there really isn’t anything else to build a sales-driving campaign around this time of the year retailers have prolonged the back-to-school shoping season by moving up its start date. Competition is fierce and even exhausting. Retail marketers have to carefully weigh how to spend their rather limited budgets. Sit on the advertising money for too long and you’ll lose mind share. Spend it too soon and you’ll fizzle before consumers really start buying.

USA Today has a list of what some retailers are doing and when in order to roll out the back-to-school season. Time Magazine’s Moneyland blog looks at why retailers are pushing back-to-school. The Boston Globe has a blog entry on a Back-to-School savings card that office-supplies super store Staples is peddling. The United States Census Bureau reported a couple of weeks ago that the number of companies with paid employees fell by almost 300,000 over the past two years, a development that’s put additional strain on retail businesses.

There is also a quite practical reason for why the back-to-school season is so drawn out: School starts at different times in different parts of the country.