Leverage impulse sales for holiday wins

Articles
October 26, 2009

This time of year comes the inevitable slew of newsstand magazine stories about holiday shopping and holiday savings for consumers.

This time of year comes the inevitable slew of newsstand magazine stories about holiday shopping and holiday savings for consumers.  Many reveal valuable tips for readers—but there is gold in them for retailers too, as long as retailers don’t approach them with an ‘us vs. them’ mindset.

We at SupermarketGuru.com suggest empathy as the key to success in this upcoming Christmas season. Understand how people will shop (perhaps haltingly), will want to save (pretty much universally), will still be tempted to impulse buy (while encouraging this, find ways to have them feel good about it, rather than regretful). On this latter point, perhaps educational signage, value messaging, incremental rewards (loyalty points) and added services could be just the coddling that makes your stores their preferred destination for the foods and beverages of holiday entertainment.

An impulse shopping poll conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center for its November issue of ShopSmart magazine uncovered that in this tightest of recessions when everyone professes to be a relentless saver:
•    60% of women bought something on a whim in the past year.
•    The average cost of their most recent impulse purchase was $108.
•    Clothing was the most recent impulse item (25% of respondents), food came in second (14%) and accessories third (6%).
•    A hot price drove their most recent impulse purchase (42%).
•    While more than a third (35%) expressed regret over an impulse purchase in the last 12 months, only 25% returned the item.

We don’t know for sure if women make that impulse buy as a relief valve from their day-to-day pressures. The survey does make clear that women even today are susceptible to this practice. Therefore, we urge stores once again to promote and merchandise early and aggressively—to help lift shoppers emotionally, help them feel good about their purchases, and help set the competitive price tone in key trading areas.

Along the way, be sensitive to shoppers’ needs and determination to save. The ShopSmart article includes many tips that pit, for instance, supermarkets vs. wholesale clubs. Make it easy for them to achieve this aspect of their shopping missions, and reap the holiday cheer.