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Back-to-School by the Numbers; Staples Predicts Hot Products and Back-to-School Top Sellers for the 2003 Season

Thursday, August 7, 2003 7:00 am EDT

Dateline:

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.

Public Company Information:

NASDAQ:
SPLS
"Consumers look to us at back-to-school because we're in the supplies business year-round -- so our product selection is deep and we continually replenish"

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Take the world's leading office supply retailer, add $14.5 billion in tax rebate checks, multiply by back-to-school season and what do you get? Staples calculates an answer of 41.4 million lead pencils, 18.2 million two-pocket folders, 11.2 million Staples brand notebooks and 4.2 million three-ring binders to be sold at its stores this back-to-school season.

Back-to-school is big business, with an estimated $14.1 billion being spent this year on clothing, school supplies and electronics, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. For office supply companies like Staples, back-to-school is a unique time to reach out to a large consumer audience and showcase products and services useful for school, home and business.

Staples is featuring both new products and "favorites with a new twist" in its back-to-school product line-up this year to earn its portion of the $450 per household forecasted to be spent. Classic products like Sharpie(R) pens have expanded beyond black, red, blue and green this year and are now available in silver, berry, lime and turquoise. Spiral notebooks have entered a new era with the introduction of colorful disc notebooks that replace the spiral with poker-chip sized plastic circles - providing the functionality of a three-ring binder with movable pages and dividers. Even the Post-It(R) Note has evolved with the introduction of a Super Sticky Post-It(R) and TI83 graphing calculators from Texas Instruments are available in blue and purple.

There's also a host of new hot products in the back-to-school line-up that did not exist when most parents went back-to-school. LockerMate(R) offers Locker Kits(TM) that include an expandable Adjust-a-Shelf(R), locker mirror, organizers, pockets and a locker clock. Staples has added more colors and prints to its line of The Original Book Sox(R) based on consumer response to the fashionable, washable book covers that are quickly replacing paper book covers. And technology-hungry students are rushing in for the new 128 MB Minicruzer - a $39 portable storage device that's the size of an index finger and plugs into a USB port connection to transport MP3 files, photos, PowerPoint presentations and more.

With 45.7 percent of families shopping for back-to-school indicating that they intend to buy electronic or computer-related equipment, technology is evolving into a back-to-school "staple" category. Staples is offering the Palm Zire(TM) for under $100 and notebook computers like the Averatec for $899. For households creating multiple work and homework stations, wireless networking gear from Belkin allows multiple PCs to share files, printers and internet access using a $59 adapter and $79 router.

"Consumers look to us at back-to-school because we're in the supplies business year-round -- so our product selection is deep and we continually replenish," explained Dave Perron, executive vice president of merchandising and supply chain management at Staples. "Our goal is to make shopping easy and showcase our expertise to earn long term customer loyalty."

Last year, Staples reported a record third quarter with $3.1 billion in total company sales. This year the company has doubled its on-line selection of back-to-school supplies and introduced an online version of its Teacher Supply lists program at www.stapleslists.com. Staples has captured more than 50,000 individual teacher supply lists in an effort to connect parents and teachers before the start of the school year.

For Staples, back-to-school provides an opportunity to highlight the company's recently introduced "easy" brand promise - and sell an estimated 6.3 million highlighters!

About Staples

Staples, Inc., an $11.6 billion retailer headquartered outside of Boston, sells a wide range of office products, including supplies, technology, furniture, and business services. Staples is committed to make buying office products easy. Nearly 58,000 associates serve consumers and businesses of all sizes -- from home-based businesses to Fortune 500 companies in the US, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Staples invented the office superstore concept and today, with approximately 1,500 office superstores, is the largest operator of office superstores in the world. Staples also serves its customers through its mail order catalog, e-commerce and contract businesses. More information is available at http://www.staples.com.

Contact:

Staples
Karen O'Neil, 508-253-7375
Karen.Oneil@staples.com
or
Sharyn Frankel, 508-253-7895
Sharyn.Frankel@staples.com

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