Top Five Tips for Retailers to Bloom This Spring
By Shelley E. Kohan, VP, retail consulting, RetailNext; instructor, Fashion Institute of Technology
Consumer confidence is 10 points higher than this time last year. Spring weather forecasts show April will be warmer than average for many areas. So, how can retailers optimize sales during this season? Learning from last year’s data and trends is a great place to start.
Retailers have huge opportunities to learn from last spring. We can plan for right-timed promotions around gender-specific gifts and merchandise, staff for peak traffic to boost service and conversion, and balance activities to drive traffic on softer shopping days.
Before we look at the lessons from last season, we should look at a few external factors likely to affect shopping behavior during the coming months. The indicators look promising!
What’s different this spring?
• The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index was at 78.1 in February 2014, heading into spring.
• The same Index in February 2013 stood at 68, a full 10 points lower.
• The Index had improved by June 2013, rising 13.4 points to 81.4.
• The long hard winter endured by those along the Atlantic and Midwest could have shoppers feeling peaks of spring fever.
Some regions should see warmer-than-normal temps this April according to the Farmers Almanac long-term forecast.
So, it’s up to brick-and-mortar retailers to capitalize on the fresh air and eager wallets. Using insights from RetailNext data analysts, based on observations of more than 100 retailers and brands, here are my top five tips to make traffic, conversion and sales bloom in stores:
1. Good Friday will be just that; Staff for it: Easter Sunday fell early in 2013: on March 30. The week preceding Easter saw a ramping uptick in traffic beyond a typical week’s pattern, peaking on Friday, when shopper traffic hit a 47% increase from a typical Friday. Staff up on Friday, slimming the rest of the weekend.
2. All about moms on May 8 – 10: Last year, sales lifted sharply Thursday through Saturday prior to Mother’s Day, compared to a typical week (up about 14%). In 2014, shoppers are likely to again focus on last-minute Mother’s Day purchases, so plan promotions and targeted marketing messages around gift merchandise to drive traffic on these key days. Thursday prior to Mother’s Day is the key day, with sales up 19%, so staff up (even shifting hours from the previous Sunday, which has been historically lower sales and falls in the same week for most retailers).
3. Beyond BBQs on Memorial Day: Memorial Day 2013 saw a 73% increase in traffic and a 59% increase in sales from a typical Monday (and our data did not include the grocery segment). However, traffic the following Saturday dropped 16%, compared to an average Saturday. Retailers should remove non-sell distractors from the holiday weekend (especially Monday) and focus on conversion tactics. In addition, shift staffing into Monday from the following Saturday, which lands in the same fiscal week for most retailers.
4. Dad’s gifts bought on Friday: Last June, the week leading up to Father’s Day saw lift in traffic, conversion, and sales, peaking on Friday with a 32% sales increase over a typical Friday. This sustained sales surge indicates a clear mission among shoppers seeking Father’s Day gifts. Retailers should focus on clear messaging and gifting opportunities for these focused shoppers. Signage, product key points and transparent pricing can help convert the shopper from browser to customer. Take advantage of increased shopping trips the week leading up to Dad’s Day, which averaged between 17%-23% higher-than-normal traffic spikes.
5. Drive “loyalty” program enrollments: These spring events are great opportunities to drive loyalty program enrollments. Retailers using opt-in guest WiFi have another opportunity to increase loyalty enrollment. In addition, the feature allows for personalized messaging to specific customers, helping to drive sales and initiate additional purchases.
Target adds travel products in store
Long time Target supplier J.L. Childress said six of its products were added to Target’s in store travel assortment.
The products are geared toward parents of babies and young children and include variety of bags to simplify life for on the go parents with infants and young children in tow. J.L. Childress has items available for sale on the Target website, however, the new products carried in the stores are unique and not available online, according to the company.
“We are thrilled to be associated with Target stores and delighted that they are carrying some of our best selling travel items in their stores,” said Sarah Gray, vp at J.L. Childress. “Target is so much more than a large retail chain. They offer shoppers upscale yet affordable products that are design-forward and useful. More importantly, Target has a legacy of giving back to the community, and they exemplify good corporate citizenship. We are proud to be one of their partners.”
J.L. Childress was founded almost 30 years ago by former Disney designer Jan Childress.
BikeStreet enlists new CEO for growth ride
Former H.H. Gregg EVP and COO Gregg Throgmartin has been name CEO at upstart cycling retailer BikeStreet.
Throgmartin resigned from HH Gregg after a 13 year career which saw him rise to become EVP and COO of the 228 store consumer electronics retailer. He joins BikeStreet, a company founded in 2012, as it embarks on an ambitious strategy to growth from 17 stores to more than 1,000 stores during the next seven years.
BikeStreet’s strategy is to identify successful shop owners who are engaged with their local communities, bring them into BikeStreet as equity partners, and then help them expand their business to a new level of success as an integral part of the BikeStreet team. In the process, BikeStreet’s advanced systems significantly reduce their back-office requirements.
“As an investor in BikeStreet, I’ve been watching the growth of the company since they launched. Now, I look forward to having a direct role in it,” Throgmartin said. “Cycling is a rewarding business – there’s such passion for the sport, the culture and the people. BikeStreet has already established itself as an industry powerhouse, but we have the rare opportunity to take the brand to another level, to produce a significant return for our shareholders and to help our customers lead healthier lives. What could be better than that?”
Throgmartin takes over the CEO position from Pat Patregnani, who will remain an integral part of the BikeStreet team as founder and chairman of the board. The pair worked together for years as H.H. Gregg was a long time client of Zimmerman Advertising, where Patregnani served as CEO.
“During my time working with Gregg, I’ve developed a trust and respect for his integrity and character, as well as for his business acumen as a leader of a public company,” said Patregnani. “I have the utmost confidence in Gregg’s ability to deliver on our vision and and our operational objectives. He has the skill, the retail knowledge and the growth experience to execute our plan. I’m thrilled to have him as a vital part of our leadership team moving forward.”