No Easy Sell Seen for Back-to-School Merchandise

NEW YORK — Several top executives participating in Reuters Consumer and Retail Summit here last week said they expect the upcoming back-to-school selling season to remain tough.

NEW YORK — Several top executives participating in Reuters Consumer and Retail Summit here last week said they expect the upcoming back-to-school selling season to remain tough.

Their enthusiasm for what is considered the second-biggest sales period of the year is dampened by a sluggish economic rebound; consumers' reluctance to open their purses; and continued shopper demand for deep discounts, Reuters said in a news report.

Ted Woehrle, chief marketing officer of Newell Rubbermaid, told Reuters that he didn’t expect the back-to-school season to be that much better than 2009.

"I don't think the consumer's mindset is going to be much different in terms of being value-conscious," he was quoted as saying.

Sam Martin, chief operating officer of OfficeMax, the third-largest U.S. office supplies retailer, relayed a similar sentiment.

"I think a year back isn't so much different for the consumers of back-to-school. Unemployment is still very high. There is still a lot of pressure on home mortgages. There is still a lot of pressure on consumer debt," he was quoted in the report.

Martin said he expected a very competitive selling season with back-to-school promotions being top of mind for consumers.