Amazon on Thursday announced that it's reprising its "Off-to-College store," a curated page of dorm room and class essentials, plus apparel and electronics.
Prime Student members will get special deals while the store is up, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive. Amazon will also announce special prices daily.
Students enrolled in two- or four-year colleges can sign up for Prime Student. After a six-month free trial, the membership fee is $6.49 per month, or $59 per year, half the cost of a regular Prime membership.
Back-to-school shopping could be difficult for retailers this year depending on how vulnerable their pricing strategies are to tariffs.
The shopping season is one of the most lucrative of the year, though still dwarfed by the holidays. U.S. consumers will spend about $500 this year, mostly on clothes, according to a report from marketing intelligence firm MiQ emailed to Retail Dive. Deals and coupons will determine where they shop, MiQ said.
With retailers like Walmart warning that they may have to hike prices to blunt tariff damage to their bottom lines, that leaves others in a good position to grab share, according to Brett Rose, CEO of United National Consumer Suppliers, one of the country's largest wholesale distributors to major retailers, off-pricers and Amazon resellers.
"[O]ff-price retailers will continue to benefit, as they aren't directly affected by the upcoming tariffs for now," he said in comments emailed to Retail Dive. "Profits are likely to be even greater during summer sales and the upcoming back-to-school shopping season."
Amazon cited research in Mintel's 2019 Back to School Shopping Report that college students are increasingly expected to use their own money to prep for college in touting its specials and free shipping. "The combination of Prime Student's convenient shopping and entertainment benefits and our Off-to-College store's incredible deals allows students and parents to stretch every dollar, while keeping all of the fun and excitement that comes with getting ready for college," Amazon Prime Vice President Cem Sibay said in a statement.
The page is well curated for the college prep to-do list, with second-year college student Ava Phillippe, (a style influencer who is also the daughter of actor and Draper James founder Reese Witherspoon), enlisted for "dorm room must-haves." The e-commerce giant previously had worked with Olivia Jade, whose parents were caught up in the recent college admissions scandal known as "Varsity Blues."