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What is retail seasonality?
Seasonality in retail sales refers to predictable surges in sales during a specific time due to a recurring event. Much like physical seasons, retail seasons happen every calendar year and lead to changes in consumer spending behavior. Retailers can tailor their offerings to these seasons and boost their revenue. While some seasons may change based on customer demographics or physical location of the store, these are some shopping trends that all retailers can take advantage of:
One of the best seasons to take advantage of retail seasonality is during holidays. The western holiday calendar, which runs from October to January, includes holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, and New Year. Shoppers have a variety of needs during these holidays, such as for candy and costumes during Halloween and large quantities of food during Thanksgiving. Though not every demographic for every store celebrates these holidays, retailers around the world can take advantage of holiday shopping to boost revenue.
- Physical season
Sometimes, seasonality in retailing looks very similar to seasonality in weather patterns. When temperatures increase, consumers are more likely to purchase items like sunglasses, refrigerated beverages, and bathing suits. The same can be said of warm beverages and scarves during cold weather, as well as umbrellas and ponchos during rainy weather. Weather changes often drive need-based purchasing behavior, where customers are buying items to combat the effects of different weather, rather than because they particularly want the item. Stocking seasonal items at times when they are weather-appropriate is a way to boost revenue by taking advantage of need-based spending
How can c-stores leverage seasonality?
C-stores can take advantage of seasonality not only by offering seasonal goods, but by leveraging key values convenience offers customers as well.
C-stores can price items higher than at other retailers, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, because of their longer hours and smaller inventories. Customers are more willing to spend extra money at a c-store for an item that costs less at another retailer for more convenient shopping. For example, c-stores are frequently open later than other retailers and frequently have shorter lines.
Therefore, c-stores can offer seasonal items at a premium price and know that customers will be willing to pay the extra money to avoid shopping at less convenient retailers. For example, stocking sunglasses during the summer months or specialty Valentine’s Day candy during February will lead to more customer purchases of these items, which can be priced at a premium in c-stores.