It’s the latest craze in retail and it’s coming to universities all over the country. I’m talking about the “student lock in”.
Reading an article in the Guardian, I discovered that believe it or not, students are amongst those with the highest disposable income. With more than 2.5 million people in higher education, their annual spending is estimated at around £15 billion. Despite tuition fees going up, students are still spending money on the things they want but don’t necessarily need. However, Sharon Leeson of NUS Extra claims that because of the increase in financial pressure, students are actively looking for money-saving offers, an experience and most of all – value for money.
Retailers have picked up on this and are taking full advantage with popular names like Topshop, New Look and Superday getting in on the act offering discounts of 20%. But it’s not just a case of money off. The lock in promises an experience with DJ sets and free vodka shots galore. Not to mention the timing of the event, which tends to be an early autumn thing. Freshers are desperate to fit in with their fashion conscious peers and the first instalment of most student loans are double! It begs the question, are retailers really doing students a financial favour? Or are they just taking advantage of poor, vulnerable fledglings?
Of course, student lock-ins provide a huge beneficial boost for the retailer since higher food and fuel bills have forced people to cut down on trips to the shops. Footwear retailer Schuh get queues at the door numbering up to 50 students and reported sales were up 180% on the previous years event. Despite students inability to resist a money-saving offer encouraging them to spend money they might otherwise save, some savvy students take full advantage of the savings with some students buying up to three pair of shoes at a time which could potentially be saving them money in the long run on things they genuinely need. Somehow I think these cases are few and far between and most purchases will be purely impulse buys. With student debts averaging £26,000 these days I really think they need think about the things they invest in. One shopper says, “students are just thinking it’s a discount and want to shop anyway”. For some people there that’s probably true but for the majority – I’m not convinced.