The unexpected and long-awaited appearance of the sun last month had an extremely positive and welcome impact on the UK’s high street.
Figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) earlier this week showed that UK retail sales enjoyed their fastest July growth in seven years! Sales were up 2.2% compared with last year, as consumers rushed out to buy swimwear, sandals, sun cream, beer, and barbecue foods.
It wasn’t all positive news for the retail sector though – sales of furniture, flooring and home textiles fell during the period.
Demand for most retail products is subject to seasonal fluctuation. In some cases this may be due to culture and customs e.g. religious festivals or in other instances, as the recent figures from the BRC illustrate, the seasonality can be attributed to the weather.
Here are five suggestions to overcome seasonality and ensure a steady stream of sales throughout the year:
Add complementary products
Extend your product range with products that enhance what you already offer. For example, a shop selling beauty and skin care products could introduce complementary products such as jewellery and scarfs.
Invest in e-commerce
Develop your online presence and e-commerce shop so that you can target customers internationally and overcome the issues of seasonality. Winter in the northern hemisphere is summer in the southern hemisphere so potentially there is a year-round demand for your product. Focus your online marketing efforts on the geographical area that your product is relevant to at that time.
Exploit holidays and notable special days
Create special offers or packages tailored to national holidays and notable special days e.g. Valentines Day, Easter, Halloween. For example, if you are selling ice cream you could create some Christmassy flavours and offer special sized tubs for entertaining. If you sell stationery products you could offer ‘back to school’ sets and promote them throughout the school holidays.
Use discounts, sales, and promotions to bring customers in during off-peak months. Nearly all retailers have a January sale to extend the pre-Christmas buying frenzy but how about a quick mid-winter sale or provide vouchers that can only be used at set times of the year? A garden centre could give away 10% off vouchers to be used in October when sales are traditionally quieter.
Encourage repeat custom
Develop a customer database and reach out to your customers on a regular basis. For example, start a monthly ezine, invite them to exclusive events, introduce a reward scheme and send them special coupons. The more information you gather about your customers the more targeted you can make your communication with them. Make your customers feel valued and encourage your existing customers to regularly return to you by making them feel valued and keeping them informed.
If you would like some help with your marketing to maintain a steady stream of customers to your retail business please give us a call. We specialise in providing marketing support to the retail sector, you can find out more here.