Understanding the behavior of Retailers & Consumers in Saudi Arabia during BTS (Back to School) – 2019


‘Back to School’ is a key consumer moment in Supermarket shopping in Saudi Arabia. The season starts around the end of the summer holidays (at the start of August) and continues till the schools re-open (end of August or early September). The Back-to-School season is the second largest moment for retail in MENA. During the BTS season, online search and purchase behaviour is not just limited to school supplies, as shopper needs in Saudi Arabia are diverse.

Change in Retailers’ Flyer Activity during BTS weeks

The top 8 retailers from Saudi Arabia were taken for the below BTS analysis

  • Close to 30% of Retailers started promoting BTS-specific offers 4 weeks before BTS to increase sales and footfall in 2019
  • More than 80% of Retailers started promoting BTS-specific offers 3 weeks before BTS to increase sales and footfall in 2019
  • More than half the retailers still promoted BTS specific offers even after school’s re opened
  • To attract consumers and respond to competitor offers, it is observed that 2 out of 8 retailers were promoting flyers with short validity (1-2 days) along with the weekly flyers during BTS period in 2019

Changes in the promotion of categories

There are categories which are highly promoted by retailers during regular weeks. The shift in the promotion of some categories during BTS weeks was observed.

Top categories:

Categories on which promotions reduced during BTS week

  1. Trolley Bags
  2. Fresh Fish
  3. Swimming Products
  4. Detergent, Stain Remover
  5. Pots & Pans

Categories which showed an increase in promotion during BTS weeks

  1. School Supplies
  2. Pens & Pencils
  3. Hair Colour
  4. Footwear
  5. Facewash

There is an exceptional growth in the promotions of some categories during BTS Weeks:

Understanding the dynamics of offer and promotion mechanism during the BTS Period

  • Stationery is one of the key categories on which retailers promote, with promotion increasing from 0.32% in regular weeks to close to 6% in BTS period
  • Price Cut & Multi Buy were still the top promo mechanics in both BTS & Regular weeks
  • Discounts:
    •  5 out of 7 retailers have stationery as the top discounted category with an average discount of 22% across those retailers
    • Almost half the retailers have reduced discounts in these categories – Laundry, Biscuits & Cakes & Ready to Eat

Expectation from BTS 2021

We have observed that The BTS Flyer activity is increasing over the years. In 2019, the BTS themed flyers started 4 weeks before BTS started. Since 2020 was impacted by the pandemic, it is expected that retailers will be more aggressive with flyers & promotions in 2021, and we can see the same trend this year in Saudi Arabia with popular supermarkets starting BTS theme promotions.

In 2021, it is more important as ‘physical back to school’ is expected to some extent. This means those children will be going to school after pandemic and will require shopping for their needs. 


  1. App Usage pattern data is not included in the blog as in 2019 there was an overlap between Eid Al Adhan & BTS. So, we could not find the ClicFlyer Usage pattern for BTS
  2.  BTS Week 0: The week before the school re opens in KSA
    • Positive Weeks (Week 1,2): Weeks after school re opens
    • Negative Weeks (Week -8 to -1): Weeks before school re opens
  3. All major supermarkets & hypermarkets
  4. Stationery consists of:
    • School Supplies
    • Pens & Pencils
    • Office Supplies
    • Notebooks & Diaries
  5. School Supplies consist of:
    • Pencil/Pen Box
    • Geometry/Instrument/Math Box
    • Lunch Box/Bag
    • Water Bottle
    • Stationery Scissor
    • School/Stationery Set etc

Understanding the BTS trends from the past can have a significant impact on performance this year with multiple companies using business analytics services. Timely actionable insights are key to ensuring an effective promotional strategy. Analysis of past data and other business intelligent analytics can help in decision making, to drive performance during key periods such as Back to School, and maximize the outcome of the retailers’ promotions.  

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