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2020 Q1 Sales Down -4%, Full Year Forecast -17%

School marketers bracing for a -35% hit in Q2.

Apr 27, 2020

By Bob Stimolo

We are all feeling the pain from COVID-19 and bracing for a tough second quarter. Survey participants reported sales down by -4% for Q1 2020, -7 points below the forecast of +3%.

With so many schools closed and not planning to reopen this Spring, the Q2 forecast is bleak. Overall, survey respondents expect Q2 sales to drop by -35%.

Overall, the expectations for FY2020 are survivable with an overall forecast of sales down by -17%. More than half of the respondents (54%) are planning no change to their promotion and advertising budgets.  Another 40% are planning to cut their budgets by an average of almost one-third (-29%).  President Trump is leading the ed marketer presidential race, 59% to former Vice President Biden’s 41%.


You can see the detailed results of the survey if you participate. There are only 11 questions and the survey takes but a few minutes to complete. By participating you will get the results by industry – publishing, school supplies, and furniture – and by market – Pk and DayCare, Elementary, Middle/Jr. High and High School. Click here to sign up to receive the next quarterly survey.


Survey Responses by Question
Primary Business

            School Supplies                       36%

            Furniture                                   34%

            Publishing                                15%

            Technology                                8%

            Other                                         8%


What is your title?

            President/Owner/General Manager         58%

            Other                                                    21%

            VP Marketing/Director of Marketing       13%

            Product Manager                                    4%

            Marketing Manager                                 2%

            Marketing Assistant                                2%


Which do you consider to be your primary market? (multiple responses)

            Preschools/Day Cares              19%

            Elementary Schools                  68%

            Middle Schools                        55%

            High Schools                            60%

            Colleges/Universities                 26%

            School/Public Libraries               6%


Relative to last year, would you say that your first quarter 2020 (January 1st through March 31st) school market sales were:

                                                Average                                       Average

                           2020      Increase/(Decrease)         2019      Increase/(Decrease)

            Up           30%                  16%                     47%                  12%

            Flat         19%                    0                       17%                    0

            Down      51%                 (16%)                    37%                  (8%)

Overall Q1 2020 Sales -4%


To what reason(s) do you attribute this performance?  (multiple responses)

            School Closings Due to Coronavirus              66%

            Overall Economy                                           34%

            New Product Development                             21%

            Marketing Strategies                                      17%

            Change in School Funding Levels                   13%

            Competition from                        9%

            Growth of Technology in Schools                     4%

            Weather and/or Natural Disaster                       4%


Are you changing your promotion and advertising budget in response to current economic conditions?

                                                                Average (Cut)/Increase

            Cutting Budget                40%                    (29%)

            No Change                      54%                       0

            Increasing Budget              6%                      8%


Relative to the second quarter of 2019, what are you forecasting for the second quarter of 2020 (April 1st through June 30th)?

                                                Average                                       Average

                           2020      Increase/(Decrease)         2019      Increase/(Decrease)

            Up            6%                  12%                     67%                   8%

            Flat         13%                    0                       22%                    0

            Down      81%                 (44%)                    12%                  (7%)

Overall Q2 2020 Forecast -35%


Do you expect economic conditions to improve before the end of the school year?

            Major Decline                           42%

            Modest Improvement                31%

            Modest Decline                        13%

            No Change                                 8%

            Major Improvement                     6%


Relative to full year 2019, what are you forecasting for full year 2020?

                                                Average                                       Average

                           2020      Increase/(Decrease)         2019      Increase/(Decrease)

            Up           17%                  16%                     74%                  10%

            Flat         15%                    0                       11%                    0

            Down      68%                 (29%)                    15%                  (9%)

Overall FY2020 Forecast -17%.


1stQ2020 Effective Media


Who do you think will be elected as our next president?

            President Trump                                59%

            Former Vice President Joe Biden        41%


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