Overall Survey Respondents Report Q4 Sales Down -12%

Sales Forecast for Q1 2021 Also -12%

Feb 12, 2021

By Bob Stimolo

Results are in for 2020 and the picture overall is one of improvement. The year has been a roller coaster ride for most respondents. The Q1 actual was -4% sales, Q2 actual was a crippling -26%, Q3 was troubling as well with actual sales reported at -21%, but Q4 indicated the start of a turn-around with actual sales reported at -12%.

Over sixty percent of respondents anticipate that economic conditions will improve before the end of the school year. Overall, the forecast for FY 2021 is +4% and, hopefully, the start of a market recovery.

Three quarters of all respondents said the major cause of the market’s performance was remote learning hybrids due to COVID-19. More than 80% have taken some steps to align or develop their product line to accommodate remote and hybrid learning.

Almost 70% of respondents anticipate that the Biden administration will cause their educational sales to improve.

Sales representatives continue to be considered the most effective marketing media, followed by direct mail and then email.

A “Normal” 2021-22 School Year?

We all hope that the coming 2021-22 school year will mark the beginning of a return to “normalcy”. The most optimistic forecast includes school systems receiving an influx of federal funds, teachers receiving vaccines and returning to schools, and youngsters back in classrooms. If all these factors come together prior to the start of school next fall, we could see a jump in education sales beginning as soon as this coming July and August.

Maintaining a presence in the market, especially with house files (customers and inquirers), is more important now than at any time since this pandemic began. Educational spending has been well below “normal” levels for most of the spring season. It is bound to bounce back.

With the Biden administration advocating that students return to classrooms, the CDC recommending that schools reopen, vaccine production ramping up, and vaccine distribution moving into the private sector, it would appear that all the necessary forces are moving in the right direction. We should see an increase in school spending. It could start as early as late spring and continue through the summer.

Traditionally, school purchases require a degree of lead-time. The challenge is in knowing when to begin the promotion cycle so that it is properly timed relative to the decision making process for school purchases. March and April have historically been two of the best months for marketing to schools and educators.  Let’s hope the market’s comeback is underway.

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