Excuses to Celebrate

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TAKE NOTICE OF OTHER RETAILERS during the 2008 calendar year. Every month proclaims a holiday, small or large, and many stores will take advantage of each holiday that comes around. Does your store do the same?

Not every holiday has the impact of Christmas, but each will mean something to at least some of your customers. While the economy and consumer spending trends remain a little on the slow side, why not take the opportunity to put a few more dollars in the till at the end of the day?

The night before Thanksgiving, I had to run out to the grocery store to get a recipe ingredient I'd forgotten to buy — a hectic shopping trip for one item. You know, grocery stores stock turkeys, stuffing, foil pans, basting tools, yams, marshmallows and other "holiday" foods year-round; however, in the weeks before Thanksgiving they group everything together and push it up front and on end caps. They position the stuff in front of your face, making it easy for you to remember the things you may need for the big Thanksgiving meal. I went back to the same store the morning after Thanksgiving to find employees moving products around again. They were shifting the Thanksgiving supplies back to their regular aisles and preparing the focal displays for Hanukkah and Christmas. (Note: A quick turnaround after a one-day event is important.)

Every month you can see ways that normal products are remerchandised into "impulse displays" tied to the next holiday. In the powersports industry you may have to be more creative about choosing products that could be associated with a calendar event, but it's possible. Write a list of holidays in each of the 12 months and, alongside each holiday, list items you can push. Much of the time the holiday's theme will help you by associating itself with a color — i.e., Valentine's Day is red or pink, St. Patrick's Day is green, and so on. When selecting products for each holiday display, think of items that could be a gift or strike a customer's fancy. If the holiday involves a celebration but not an exchange of gifts, think about what could be worn or adorned to help celebrate the event. (St. Patrick's Day gives you a chance to get rid of all the leftover Kawasaki apparel.)

Will customers buy it? Some will and some won't, but at least you tried. You created a display around a holiday and you will move a few more pieces than you would have without the display effort.

Where do you put event-themed displays? Just like the grocery stores, you want consumers to see the products. Make a front feature table or end-cap display in a high impact zone. Place it smack in the middle of the traffic loop. Reduce the clutter around the display so it will stand out. Don't overcrowd it with too many products. When you sell down on one product, replace it with another candidate. Keep the display looking crisp and neat.

CREATING HOLIDAY DISPLAYS

If I have worked in your store before, you know how I love to use tiered feature tables for holiday-based displays. When contrasted with your other fixtures, they will attact shoppers more easily.

Start a collection of holiday decorations and props that you can label, store and reuse year after year. Go to your local dollar store, craft store or other display outlet for your supplies. Naturally, you will need shamrocks and leprechauns for St. Patrick's day, just like you'll need patriotically themed items for Memorial Day and Independence Day.

Devise some incentives to entice customers to make purchases. For Mother's Day, create a sweepstakes for a special dinner. For Valentine's Day or Sweetest Day, get a dozen red or pink roses, then put them into a vase at the register. With every gift purchase, give the customer a rose.

You even can get creative by developing a co-op deal with a local photography business to come to the dealership and take glamour shots of the ladies dressed in leather and lace (and posing on a bike) for their sweethearts.

Remember to include items that appeal to both genders (with the exception of Mother's and Father's Days). You might include a special deal from your service department; various items such as bike detailing, performance upgrades and chrome add-ons may be a way to upsell parts and give the service department a boost.

Every month gives you the opportunity to create excitement and generate impulse sales. The key to success is to plan ahead, think creatively and group products that can be associated with your theme.

Christy Michaud is a retail merchandising specialist at Tucker Rocky Distributing. E-mail questions and comments to Michaud via editors@dealernews.com.