BACK TO SCHOOL – better do your homework!

Back to School is a major opportunity, that comes round every year, for Britain’s cash ‘n’ carries and delivered wholesalers to help the convenience stores and independent retailers they serve to capture a major profit opportunity.

‘No more than three schoolchildren at a time, please!’ The main product sectors in which neighborhood retailers located near schools score heavily on impulse purchases by school kids are traditionally sweets, snacks and soft drinks. But kids with money in their pockets will buy pretty much anything on their way to school, and again on the way home.

As the new term approaches, stationery items for school and home use become important money-spinners, especially if retailers merchandise them prominently. So make sure you have plenty of stock of these items to help your retailer customers cash in on last minute purchases of Sellotape and glue, and the other essentials mum (and dad, be fair) forgot to buy early on in the holidays.

But the biggest bite of the Back To School bonanza is food for the lunchbox, especially for those neighbourhood convenience stores with a strong food offering. Thanks in large part to Mr Jamie Oliver, the healthy eating message is now an intrinsic part of the primary school curriculum, and children are being taught about the benefits of a healthy and balanced diet.

According to research experts Mintel, 3.6 million children between the ages of 4 and 15, take a homemade packed lunch to school each day. Parents of school age children are receptive to product launches in the fruit category that meet the tighter government nutritional guidelines: two fifths claim they ensure their child meets their 5-a-day fruit and vegetable requirement.

New packed lunch products that offer children a wide range of flavours and tastes will appeal to the 55% of parents trying to encourage their children to be more adventurous in their food tastes. While crisps remain the top snack choice for children, retailers with a choice of healthy products will impress those parents buying for their children. And healthier products with well- communicated nutritional benefits will particularly appeal to the parents of the 1.3 million school aged children who avoid buying unhealthy snacks for their children.

There’s a more collaborative approach between schools and food and drink brands these days, very much in line with coalition government thinking, and helping to raise awareness of healthy eating. This is helping to grow the market for healthier packed lunch products and help in the fight against childhood obesity. So we can expect more initiatives from the food and drink manufacturers, which will make Back To School sales even healthier.