Aug. 2 - Retailers are trying out new kinds of promotions to score extra points this back to school shopping season. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Retailers are not above using creative gimmicks and technology to score extra points this back to school season The signs are up for back to school- and retailers are trying out some new lesson plans. For J.C. Penney back to school is the first real test of their big new makeover. J.C. Penney Store Leader Missy Ioanna: SOUNDBITE: MISSY IOANNA, STORE LEADER, J.C. PENNEY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We are not even looking at numbers. All we know is that traffic is starting to pick up a bit and we are excited about the transformation that J.C. Penney is going to go through." Given that consumer spending has been down, the industry projections are optimistic. The National Retail Federation expects parents with kids in Kindergarten through 12th grade will spend an average $688 dollars - up 14% from last year. Same store sales for July came in better than forecasts- though a lot of the gains were tied to discounting. REPORTER BRIDGE: BOBBI REBELL, REUTERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Hoping to score extra credit with the parents- and of course get them into the stores- J.C. Penney is offering free kids haircuts for the month of August. This store in New York City did more than 200 on their first day alone. They think they will do more than a thousand before the promotion is over. And they aren't alone- Office Depot is promoting ties to Lady Gaga's foundation-donating part of the profits from a line of anti-bullying products. And retailers are finally starting to do more with technology than just push coupons. Nancy Liu is a retail strategist at consulting firm Kurt Salmon. SOUNDBITE: NANCY LIU, RETAIL STRATEGIST, KURT SALMON ASSOCIATES (ENGLISH) SAYING: "They are able to bring some of the digital technology into their brick and mortar stores such as Target with their uStyler, you are able to design your own dorm room and then share it with Twitter or Facebook through social media." Target's July Same Store Sales rose more than expected, despite what the retailer calls a challenging environment. Liu says the promotions are working. SOUNDBITE: NANCY LIU, RETAIL STRATEGIST, KURT SALMON ASSOCIATES (ENGLISH) SAYING: "They are not gimmicks. It's actually a very interesting strategy right now. Every retailer is focused on this concept of in-store experience and this idea of creating theater in their stores is not just a back to school trend but an overall retail strategy trend. So the idea of having haircuts, having celebrities in their store, all the retailers are thinking about how to bring that customer into stores. " One segment not making the grade so far, teenagers, with teen apparel chains getting the brush-off from their often finicky customers. Bobbi Rebell, Reuters.