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    Back-to-School 2021: A Look Inside Stores on Tax-Free Weekend

    Back-to-School Showcase Agent Photo

    Is that the bell ringing? Already?

    Just this weekend, shoppers across the country flocked to stores in pursuit of back-to-school (BTS) supplies, clothes, equipment, and—of course—savings.

    In fact, for several states, it was one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year, when hordes of shoppers turned out for their state’s annual BTS tax holiday.

    What exactly was it like in stores this weekend? Busy? Picked over? Festooned with BTS signage and displays?


    Auditing BTS Aisles, OSA, & Displays

    This weekend we used the Field Agent retail-solutions platform to audit the BTS sections of Walmart Supercenters and Target stores in several states observing tax-free holidays, including Texas, Ohio, and Missouri.

    Here, specifically, are the audits we ran through the Field Agent platform:

    • A "Back-to-School Store Visit" of Walmart Supercenters
    • A "Back-to-School Store Visit" of Target stores
    • An "On-Shelf Availability" audit of rad, 80s-style Trapper Keepers
    • A "Display Compliance Audit" of Frito-Lay's "school bus" display 

    What did we find? See for yourself. Before you get a tardy slip.


    See Also: Field Agent's 2021 Back-to-School Report


    BTS Store Visits of Walmart & Target

    A "Back-to-School Store Visit," one of the newest products in the Field Agent platform, deploys real shoppers to the BTS sections of specific stores where they capture photos of shelves, displays, and signage. 

    At the height of tax-free shopping this weekend, we captured a total of 229 photos inside stores. 

    Here's a peek inside Walmart Supercenters on Saturday, August 7, 2021:

    Back-to-School Walmart Displays

    At the same time, shoppers were conducting a BTS Store Visit of Target stores:

    Back-to-School Target Displays

    The stores were busy, as you might expect on a tax-free holiday. Of 20 total BTS Store Visits, half of shoppers described their designated store as "busy, but not over-crowded," and 25% found the aisles to be "extremely" crowded.

    With that in mind, timing matters. On Saturday afternoon, shoppers generally reported stores as "extremely busy," while they reported lighter traffic in the morning and evening.


    On-Shelf Availability of Trapper Keepers

    Now this is cool. Cool like tight-rolled jeans, Rubik's Cubes, and Miami Vice. 

    Mead brought back its bodacious 80s-style Trapper Keepers for the 2021 BTS season. The binder is riding the wave of 80s nostalgia back to the classroom, with psychedelic designs that would make Napoleon Dynamite swoon.

    To understand stock-levels and distribution, we conducted a 10-store On-Shelf Availability Audit of this new, er, old product at Walmart.

    Back-to-School Trapper Keeper Displays

    Of the 10 Walmart Supercenters we audited, nine were carrying the retro Trapper Keepers. And most were well-stocked. Shoppers in 50% of the stores reported more than six Trapper Keepers on-shelf, and only one store had less than three in stock.


    Display Audit of the Frito-Lay School Bus

    BTS is one of those seasons that really brings out the creativity in POS materials. Right now, stores across the country are filled with displays and signage featuring classroom themes.

    We ran a Display Compliance Audit of one of these displays: the Frito-Lay school bus. The big, yellow display was recently spotted inside Walmart stores.

    So, just how widespread were these displays this weekend?

    In our audit, shoppers spotted the Frito-Lay display in just 3 of 14 Walmart Supercenters, according to results and photos in the Field Agent dashboard.

    Back-to-School Frito-Lay School Bus DisplaysAnd what products were on-display? Our shoppers scanned barcodes to find out. As you might expect, the school bus was stocked with traditional lunch box faves like:

    • Frito-Lay Classic Mix Variety Pack, 18 Count

    • Frito-Lay Variety Pack Flavor Mix, 18 Count

    • Frito-Lay Fiery Mix Variety Pack, 18 Count

    At least one display, however, also contained 3.5 oz. units of Fritos Flavor Twists Honey BBQ and Cheetos Crunchy Flamin' Hot.


    Your Turn. Make the Grade with BTS Shoppers!    

    That's a look inside stores on a pivotal weekend during the 2021 BTS shopping season.

    • Need to see your BTS product (or a competitor's) in-store and on-shelf?
    • Need to drive more sales of your BTS product?
    • Need to check up on your BTS displays or signage?

    The Field Agent platform is always ready with a fast, affordable solution to whatever retail challenge you're facing—from sales to audits to online reviews. 

    Click below, and launch your own BTS audit or other project within minutes. 

    Check Up on Your BTS Products with Field Agent


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