The month-long cold wave wasn’t enough to freeze up the Holiday spirit. People have flooded the streets and stores alike. The ambiance has been vibrant, absolutely electrifying and perfect for hitting the streets with friends and family. Retailers are on top this Holiday season as customers still prefer brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce sites when they are out together and decide over purchasing gifts, instantly. All that brick-and-mortar retailers had to do is building their promotional strategy, capitalizing this factor and this Christmas they have done it. The results are out in the front.
The sales performance of brick-and-mortar retail hasn’t exactly created fairy tales since beginning of this Holiday season. In one of our earlier blog posts, we discussed the subject in detail and tried to figure out the probable factors that could have made brick-and-mortar retail performance even a lesser success in 2014 than it was in 2013. Of all the factors that we cited to have caused lack of purchase on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a conspicuous reason was the assurance that retail offers/discounts/deals will be available for longer and they are not simply to go away.
Brick-and-mortar retail businesses also appreciated customers’ realization and they didn’t lose hope of a remarkable closure to Holiday season shopping. The reports about retail performance on Super Saturday (20th December, 2014 – the last Saturday before Christmas) have suggested that shoppers are quite enthusiastic to join the last minute purchasing rush. The pictures of customer gathering to brick-and-mortar stores are almost same in major US locations, namely New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Chicago etc. Several factors may be responsible for causing such remarkable customer rush, such as:
- Weather has an important role to play. The month-long cold wave has increased the demand for warm clothing and other associated products
- Brick-and-mortar retail deals are as effective and attractive as e-commerce counterparts in terms of customer engagement and retention
- Stocks are available and customers are experiencing lesser out-of-stock experience, contributing to their enthusiasm in finding the best product at an affordable price
- Discounts and offers are remarkable especially in case of apparels
- The balance between discounts and profitability has been perfected, which is not only driving higher conversions but is also ensuring desired profit margin for retailers
The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicted that this Holiday season, retail sales will at 4.1% rate. This prediction is based on three factors mainly – improved employment situation, reduced fuel price and higher purchasing capacity among customers. The results are evident, as compared to last year’s $9 billion sale, this year’s Super Saturday has generated $9.15 billion. The results are not exactly matching the expected 4.1% growth but way better than that of Black Friday. Furthermore, before we enter the New Year, 2015, a few days are still remaining and most importantly, buyers will get a weekend to complete shopping. If the current trend continues, the results will not be much entirely disappointing, despite the fact that it is hard to make up the 4.1% growth mark.
- Customer engagement is crucial and discount coupons/price cuts are effective tools for this purpose. However, the method of reaching customers should be more prompt, quicker and easily interactive.
- Customers don’t have any problem with spending more but they should be made aware of the right offers on products at the right time, especially during Holiday season shopping, where the rush is really high and it is not possible to go through offers and discounts manually at every counter.
- Several stores have experienced lower footfalls and customer traffic. It is important that they diagnose the reason and don’t let these factors affect overall earning. Providing customers will online purchasing option is a prudent solution where the final retail conversion wouldn’t solely depend on customer traffic and footfall.
The best lessons mostly come when you walk the hard way. While this Holiday season shopping is clearly not ending with a disappointing note, on the other hand, brick-and-mortar retailers should not find contentment with small successes. Learn it the hard way, implement and emerge triumphant in the end.