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How to avoid a January sales slump

The festive period is undeniably the busiest time of year for retailers, and with the public gripped by the Christmas spirit, the exuberance of the season leads most of us to spend heavily. In fact, UK consumers are estimated to collectively shell out a mind-blowing £446,000 every minute of every day on presents during December.

But after the highs of December come the lows of January, and even with the long-advertised January Sales, most stores struggle to meet targets as a result of the public’s reluctance to spend after Christmas. January and February are typically two of the lowest spending months of the year, but that doesn’t mean retail spending stops entirely. It simply means that as a retailer, you need to go above and beyond to connect with your audience and entice them to your store.

If you are worried about a slow start to the year yourself, then take note of the following tips to stave it off and begin the new year with a flourish.

Generate buzz by hosting an event

45% of global consumers say they would happily pay more for a better retail experience, so hosting an in-store event can give your brand an invaluable marketing boost. However, putting on the right type of event is essential, and the only way you can do this is by closely considering your customers—who exactly your audience is, and what kind of activities they’d enjoy.

Take Adidas’ award-winning “Jump Store pop-up as a shining example of a successful event that was tailor made for a brand’s customer base. Designed in collaboration with retail design agency Form Room, members of the public were given the opportunity to (literally) grab a free pair of Adidas trainers. All they had to do was jump and grab one of the 120 pairs laid out on a platform ten feet above the ground (the same height as a basketball rim) within the time it takes to make a play in a basketball game. By integrating an activity that was sure to appeal to Adidas’ sporty customer base with the promise of free merchandise, the campaign tied in perfectly with their brand. What’s more, the “Jump Store” generated roughly £2 million of free media for the brand, showing just how profitable a promotional event can be.

Increase your advertising spend

Hosting an event is the not only way to ramp up your advertising efforts during the potentially fallow early months of a new year. British brands fork out a significant chunk of their advertising budget in the run-up to Christmas, with 28% of total advertising spend in 2017 being invested in Christmas adverts. So by optimising your advertising presence in January and February, you’ll steal the limelight from competitors, and increase your own brand’s visibility at their expense.

Marketing can take many forms, some more expensive than others, and the accessibility of social media advertising is an ideal place for the uncertain to start. The likes of Facebook and Twitter let you target specific demographics, so you can advertise directly to your core audience. Just be sure to get clued up on the art of social media advertising before you throw stacks of money at it.

Another worthwhile way to raise brand awareness is by advertising from your store itself. Window displays, merchandise and fixtures can all be leveraged to attract people to your store and increase footfall. As the face of your store, window displays are a particularly effective way to advertise to the public, so updating them regularly can emphasise different products at different peak sales times, as well as tell your brand’s story.

Encourage purchases with promotional offers

Did your brand offer discounts during Black Friday and Boxing Day? If so, these were probably some of the biggest reductions you offered all year, but you shouldn’t confine promotional efforts exclusively to these dates. Holding another promotion during January represents a great way to keep sales figures high and augment your other efforts to avoid a sales slump.

You might have to be creative to draw customers in, however. Offering smaller discounts than you did during the holidays may not be enough to appeal to your audience. There are many ways you can run creative promotions though, from launching new product bundles to running a buy one get one free offer—this also doubles up as a great way of getting rid of excess stock. You may also want to start a new loyalty scheme, or offer free shipping for online orders, if you didn’t already.

Claire James

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