The holiday season is upon us and your stores, where 80% of total holiday sales happen, are the battleground for sales and margins!
While Christmas is important to brick-and-mortar retailers (responsible for more than $1 trillion spent on decorations, parties, food, and gifts in the US alone) having a successful Q4 means paying attention to every seasonal event from September through December. Retailers who push for the entire quarter are sure to end the calendar year with higher sales and margins.
Back to school shopping after school begins
While back to school shopping peaks around the first week of August, 10% of consumers are still spending into September. 10% may seem small in comparison to the 64% of shoppers who begin in early August, but on average late shoppers spend nearly double the amount of early shoppers ($889 compared to $443). As of late August, 39% of shoppers are still unsure of exactly what they need. Back-to-school shoppers are also budget-conscious with 36% still waiting for the best deal. 28% of shoppers plan to buy school supplies over Labor Day weekend.
The first weeks of September are a great time for sales and events that target these shoppers. Help them check off the rest of their list and help your stores clear inventory in preparation for the Autumn holidays.
Labor Day is often the last holiday weekend for warmer weather in the Northern Hemisphere. Consumers plan to spend time with family (44%) and get outside (37%). On average, families spend about $150 for the holiday. Big box retailers are particularly popular for this holiday since they stock school supplies, clothing, groceries, and outdoor accessories. 32% of consumers plan to shop at a big box store before the weekend is over.
Don’t forget the 15% of consumers who aren’t having “fun” but will instead dedicate this weekend to chores preparing for Autumn. Additionally, many think of September 1 as a second New Year. Tap into those shoppers resolved to get healthy, clear clutter, and make life improvements.
Football is back. Whether consumers gather near the field, at a restaurant, or in their homes, tailgate season is a major win for all types of retailers. 58% of tailgaters spend an average of almost $200 per game on food and supplies; 42% spend over $500 per game. 46% of fans will tailgate 6 – 10 times between September and January, giving retailers months to engage with them.
Restaurants like Bojangles’ are ready to play with catering packages perfect for any tailgate party with favorites like wings, fries, and macaroni ‘n cheese. Additionally, Bojangles’ reinforces their connection with tailgaters by asking them to share their traditions and superstitions on social media under the hashtag #LongLiveTheTailgate. They are creating brand awareness and customer loyalty.
Tailgating is about more than food and drinks as fans often splurge on gear to get ready for the game. In light of this, American Eagle acquired vintage style sportswear line Tailgate by Todd Snyder with plans to open as many as 200 Tailgate stores on university campuses in order to diversify and tap into an older market.
Halloween is the second most commercial holiday in the US, and it has a long season. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), 7 out of 10 consumers plan to celebrate Halloween, and more than 30% will start their shopping in September while 19% will still be shopping the last two weeks of October.
Halloween shopping touches a number of retail verticals: CPG candy and party foods, crafts, thrift shops, specialty shops, department stores, and home décor. Aside from the Christmas season, home improvement and home decor stores see the largest year over year sales growth during Halloween (almost 20% over the previous year!).
Pets are now family, and that means they are included in Halloween celebrations. According to NRF, pet owners shelled out $350 million on Halloween costumes.
Halloween is a great holiday to merge your in-store and social media marketing efforts. For inspiration, 35.2% of consumers will turn to retail stores, almost 18% to Pinterest, and 10.4% to Instagram. Ensure your social media accounts are up-to-date and feature all your promotions. Ask your in-store customers to share their purchases via social media to keep the inspiration going.
In Asia, retailers celebrate Singles Day annually on November 11. Promoted as a day to treat oneself, the multi-billion dollar sales event eclipses Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, and this has caused North American retailers to pay attention. Looking ahead to Singles’ Day 2019, 37% of Americans say they will celebrate Singles’ Day
Though beginning as a primarily e-commerce holiday, in 2018 Alibaba made an intensive push to connect its online and brick-and-mortar operations. Others use click and collect to drive additional sales in their stores. Why? Because 50% of customers using BOPIS purchase additional items in-store during pick-up.
Let’s not forget, Singles’ Day has always been about treating oneself to a special dinner out or entertainment activity.
It’s easy to neglect Thanksgiving with all the excitement around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Thanksgiving remains a major travel holiday and as a whole has considerable positive effects on all food related industries.
Thanksgiving itself is seeing a rise in online spending which hit $3.7 billion in 2018 (27.9% growth over 2017). But brick-and-mortar still has an essential role as many consumers placed orders on Thanksgiving day to be picked up in-store on Black Friday. Of the customers who utilized BOPIS in 2018, 65% made additional purchases in-store.
Instead of thinking of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as two events in opposition to each other, consider the entire weekend as a shopping extravaganza with your online and offline channels supporting one another to achieve maximum revenue. In 2018, 54% of shoppers (roughly 90 million) used multiple channels throughout the weekend. NRF states that this is roughly a 40% jump from 2017. Even better news: multichannel shoppers spent $93 more on average than consumers who only shopped online or offline.
According to Bain & Company, retailer websites saw more interaction on Black Friday than Cyber Monday. For those shopping online, 50% of consumers said the availability of click and collect influenced their decision to make an online purchase.
While store traffic was down slightly over this weekend in 2018, looking ahead it is clear that stores still matter. 70% of shoppers still want to see, touch, or try on products before purchasing though they might make the actual purchase online. In 2018, 55% of shoppers said they enjoy browsing through stores (a 35% jump over 2017). On Black Weekend in particular, put your omnichannel strategies to work to ensure the entire weekend is one stellar sale.
Black Friday is no longer the busiest shopping day of the year. That title now goes to the Saturday before Christmas. According to the Wall Street Journal, 40% of Christmas sales happen from December 15 – 24th. This presents a unique challenge for retailers who are coming to the end of a frenzied season. Staff may be burnt out or on vacation. Stores can be in disarray or lacking stock.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but those 2 weeks leading up to December 25th is a great time to do a retail audit. Why? Because retail audits engage the stores. Retail audits are not a passive activity. They offer the opportunity for members of head office to talk with store leadership and employees. Ask questions, listen, and offer resources to aid your stores during this final Q4 push.
Let’s be honest, nothing dampens the giving spirit like a dirty store lacking stock. Attractive, well run stores/displays attract customers (and keep them coming back all year long). A retail audit during this time gives companies the chance to check in with stores, reinvigorate customer service and cleanliness standards, and ensure displays are visually attractive and well stocked with clear signage.
Q4 offers retailers important revenue opportunities. For those willing to pay attention and put in the work, it can be the best quarter of the year.