NATIONAL REPORT – Everything has a season; and lately, seasonal items are spinning, spinning, spinning in convenience stores.
“The seasons are the emotional topspin on everyday basics. This is truer than ever given all of the events that have taken place over the past few months,” said Spencer Baird, executive in residence at Inmar Intelligence , who is dedicated to helping emerging companies and brands remain relevant and drive growth. “Each season brings back memories and connections with hot spots. Retailers help bring out the richness of those emotional connections [through seasonal merchandise]. ”
Seasonal merchandise is a year-round boost opportunity for convenience stores through vacations and weather traditions. According to Mark Mechelse, vice president of ideas and communications for the retail industry trade association Global Market Development Center (GMDC) and its Retail Tomorrow initiative, which seeks to connect a community of innovators with retailers, suppliers, service companies and thought leaders to foster unusual partnerships focused on improving the customer experience.
These mass appeal seasons include Back to School, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduation, and Wedding / Anniversary.
“Everyone has their own unique ‘flavor’ in a store; However, everyone should be in the foreground in the aisles or in the front to remind consumers of the new styles and traditions they are looking for to make an occasion special, ”said Mechelse. Convenience Store News.
The greater the season, the greater the display and variety of products should be.
“For convenience retailers, these items are low volume, but offer high profit margins to create basket profitability and additional revenue over basic purchases,” Mechelse added.
Bob DiNunzio, Category Solutions Director at Daymon, noted that with closures, social distancing, and remote working creating an environment where most people stay at home more often these days, “all aspects of the life [are] centered around this idea of the house as a hub. As a result, the pandemic has sparked renewed interest in seasonal goods.
“Seasonal products that enhance everyday life and ease the monotony of home life are increasingly sought after by buyers,” DiNunzio observed.
The coronavirus not only has an impact on the functional needs of American households, but it also has an emotional impact, echoed Baird of Inmar Intelligence.
“Functionally, people [are having] more opportunities at home, be it meals, snacks or cleaning, ”he said. And when it comes to seasonal items, “the distancing has created emotional voids that lead to different consumer trends.”
GMDC research has shown that locating an assortment of seasonal general merchandise is an effective strategy, whether the convenience store is a rural general store with a large assortment of general merchandise or an urban convenience store focused on immediate consumer needs and offering selected general merchandise items. A less effective strategy is to make general cargo decisions as a single, chain-wide approach.
Additionally, retailers who use digital offerings are four times more likely to experience growth in seasonal general merchandise sales, according to a GMDC study.
Other must-haves for convenience retailers looking to capitalize on the potential for seasonal sales, especially in these times of COVID, are:
- Focus on nostalgic, seasonal items that connect with the emotions and memories of consumers, which are in full swing right now.
- Keep seasonal items front and center for customers by offering the element of surprise and an emphasis on innovation.
- Remember to take regional seasonal variations into account.
- Realize that the prioritization of consumer values will shift to safety, accessibility, reliability and transparency, in that order. Apply these priorities to seasonal items as well as other categories in-store.
- Stock masks and hand sanitizer with a seasonal slant – these are obvious profit magnets in these current times.
- Look beyond the pandemic; start approaching your seasonal planning with a look to the future.