Local stores, shopping centers


Shopping centers offer discounts and events.

Last August, parents looking to supplement their children’s virtual classrooms were the predominant buying group at Neely’s Family Stores Inc., doing business as Neely’s Educational Material & Supplies, in Florence.

But this back-to-school season, owner Jerald Neely is starting to see local teachers returning to browse the aisles of stores for posters, workbooks and other classroom supplies.

“I expect to be busy for the next couple of weeks, so I’ll see more faces that look more familiar to me,” said Neely, whose grandparents started a furniture business in the same location in 1965 and transformed it into an educational center. store in 1971.

“In the whole last year, I haven’t seen a lot of teachers – they didn’t have classrooms to decorate, or they didn’t have kids in class and didn’t need to. practical activities. The good thing is that students are at least going back to class here in California, and that means the teachers will be in a classroom, and they’ll need the resources to be able to use them while they’re in class. , and that’s a good thing for me. “

As the Los Angeles Unified School District is on track to welcome students for in-person learning next week, Neely and other retailers are vying for back-to-school shoppers.

And there’s a lot at stake – Angelenos plans to spend $ 962 per child on school supplies, electronics and outfits this year, according to the Deloitte back-to-school 2021 survey.

Back-to-school offers
Local malls that are running back-to-school promotions include Citadel Outlets in Commerce, a 130-store outdoor venue known for accommodating buses packed with tourists looking for deals on designer items.

The 700,000 square foot center, owned by Craig Realty Group in Newport Beach, has partnered with approximately 50 of its tenants to offer “Hopscotch to Savings,” a 25% discount on full-price items.

“This gives people even more opportunities to save, especially if you have multiple kids you’re shopping for, or if you’re on a budget or just looking for a good deal,” said CEO David Blagg.

The downtown stores are off to a good start this year, with around 90% of 2019 sales in June.

“I think things are very positive here,” Blagg said, adding that Citadel will be hosting a job fair on August 18 with around 60 retailers looking to fill positions. “We are now doing things that seem normal. And yet it seems a little scary to do them because we haven’t been able to do it for over a year.

The Montebello stores, owned by Pacific Retail Capital Partners in El Segundo, have teamed up with flagship retailer JCPenney to host a back-to-school fashion show on August 7.

The center also set up a “glam station” at the Sephora inside the department store and distributed around 100 backpacks. The “Back to School Bash” event was the first in-person gathering on the Center Court of the Indoor Mall.

“The idea and underlying intention was to try to re-energize center court and, in a safe way, really allow our tenants to interact with customers,” said Marina Satoafaiga, Regional Marketing Director of Pacific.

To kick off back-to-school shopping, Manhattan Village invited consumers to enter to win a $ 50 gift card. The Manhattan Beach Mixed-Use Outdoor Center is also planning to hand out some 200 swag backpacks August 12-15.

Westfield Culver City, owned by Paris-based company Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, offered free airbrushed customizations of backpacks, hats and shoes last weekend for customers spending $ 50 or more. The mall also invited a DJ, hosted craft and basketball-themed games, and offered opportunities to win back-to-school merchandise and retail gift cards.

Del Amo Fashion Center, a Torrance-based venue with 2.3 million square feet of gross rental space, has partnered with stylist and fashion editor Mariah Walker on Looks Decking the School Halls, a publication featuring “The Trends that your kids really, really want you to shop. “

The digital leaflet, available on the centre’s website, also contained links to the retailers whose merchandise was featured.

What’s in the bag?
According to the Deloitte back-to-school survey, 48% of Los Angeles-based shoppers plan to spend more this year than last year, with “clarity on the school year ahead and improved confidence in the economy drives sales “.

Retailers in the region will benefit from $ 1.3 billion in total planned spending on back-to-school items, survey finds, while nationwide back-to-class is expected to generate $ 32.5 billion of sales.

Locally, clothing and accessories will represent 31% of average spending, and computers, hardware, electronic gadgets and digital subscriptions are expected to represent 47% of the back-to-school budget. School supplies and Covid-related items will account for 14% and 8% of spending, respectively.

“The influence of technology in the classroom is here to stay, and it’s really led to increased spending in each of these areas,” said Summer Taylor, general manager of Deloitte’s Los Angeles office. “There is also a fairly significant portion of students who are still going to have some form of hybrid or virtual schooling in the fall, so I think we really see that reflected when it comes to school supplies.”

Maintain momentum
With the delta variant on the rise, the owner of Neely’s Educational Material & Supplies is cautiously optimistic about this year’s sales.

“It depends on whether or not people are here to take care of the business when it comes to immunization,” Neely said. “If they are closing schools again, who knows, it’s in tune with the times. I really don’t know what to expect. That stuff makes decision making a little difficult, you know? “

“I just don’t understand why we can’t figure out which direction we’re going to go and we’re all going in the same direction, right?” There is uncertainty absolutely, but we should all be able to work together. … It shouldn’t be all this back and forth and ‘I’m going to do it, I’m not going to do it,’ ”he added.

“I have a sign here in my store that says, ‘We’re all in the same boat, so let’s act like this,’” he said.

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