Gas taking the fire out of back to school


The high price of gasoline is coming right out of household back-to-school budgets, according to a report from online research outfit Zoomerang. Parents and students are apparently in agreement on this – 60% of parents and 62% of students say they’re spending less, and 92% of the parents are pointing directly at the gas pump when assigning blame. Out of the entire survey, 25% said gas prices have affected their lives “a lot,” and a mere 4% said “not at all.” The prices affect school purchases in many ways. People who are already driving less in general also drive less than they might in search of back-to-school items. The higher-end stores get a pass. Generic product sales are up at the expense of advertised products. Traditional brick and mortar retail sales lose out to both internet sales and second-hand sales. It forces choices between back to school items — a student may not be able to avoid buying pencils, but clothing budgets can be slashed, and families can save big money by putting off purchase of a new computer.

RBR/TVBR observation: Consumer energy has caught a cold, and now everybody is sneezing. Eventually, just about every product is going to wind up on a truck – even if it was bought over the internet. And regardless of what politicians are saying right now, the simple fact is that, short of shutting down the burgeoning economies of China and India, there is no quick fix that will bring down the price at the pump.

When selling time, broadcasters must remember that merchants facing higher costs and fewer customers look to cut overhead, and advertising is often first to go. But those who find somewhere else to cut can take advantage of a prime time to grab market share, a move that can pay off for years to come. That is the story that has to be sold in these down times.