Walmart kicks off back-to-school season with dorm decor push

“While we are launching these new features for dorm rooms and small space living, we know that they could have applications elsewhere and will continue to listen to customer feedback to determine how to implement them more broadly on the site,” Anthony Soohoo, the general manager of Walmart’s e-commerce home division, said in a blog post.

“We also continue to build our assortment of great merchandise for all home shoppers,” Soohoo added.

It’s been about four months since Walmart rolled out a new landing page on its website for home shopping. The company said it’s been receiving “great feedback.”

The home category is one where many retailers, big and small, are trying to make a stronger push. The category is believed to be less threatened by Amazon, which has focused more on technology, food and apparel of late. Players like IKEA, Restoration Hardware, Wayfair and The Container Store have managed to carve out a share of the market. Target has also been on the forefront, rolling out a slew of home brands this year and in 2017, some with celebrity partners.

The back-to-school and back-to-college season is also an important one for retailers to win, as it can serve as a barometer of a company’s position ahead of the holidays. Last year, total spending for school and college combined reached more than $83 billion, a more than 10 percent increase from 2016, according to The National Retail Federation. A survey by NRF of more than 7,000 consumers found that college families were planning to spend about $5.9 billion on dorm and apartment furnishings alone.

With retail sales trending up, unemployment holding low and an economy gaining momentum overall, industry analysts expect back-to-school and back-to-college spending to be be even higher this year.

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