Professor Chris EdgerProfessor Chris Edger, Birmingham City Business School

For High Street retailers Valentine’s Day represents the first key calendar trading event after Christmas. Retailers will be seeking to optimise item sales located around the occasion; supermarkets offering ‘linked promotions’ and discounts in food, drink, floral and stationary categories, ‘clustering’ product and merchandising at key impulse purchase sites within the store. Indeed, many of the offers will have been pre-funded and supported by key suppliers (i.e. confectionary, drinks, chilled meals, growers etc). Elsewhere on the high street, jewellers, florists, ‘gifting’ shops and department stores with perfume concessions will be leveraging the occasion through special offers. For casual dining operators this is a key trading event, with couponing targeted at driving ‘couple traffic’ through linked meal/drink promotional pricing.

Taken in isolation it is obviously an important occasion for the High Street but it must be seen as part of broader trend namely; the rise in importance of key calendar events for retailers. For centuries retailers have adapted range and merchandise to seasonal patterns (in apparel – ‘winter’, ‘spring’ and ‘summer’ ranges) but key calendar events have, in recent years, become even more important in driving footfall and item sales. Out with Xmas and Easter, key calendar events in the UK such as Burns Night, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween, Bonfire Night, St Patricks Day etc plus ‘ad hoc’ sporting and national events represent key opportunities for retailers not only give themselves a sales boost but also (potentially) to attract new customers.

Given the current attack of the ‘disruptive trinity’ (economic, technological and changing customer behaviour) such opportunities to showcase themselves must not be taken lightly by retailers. For instance, outside of Xmas, Valentine’s Day is the biggest trading occasion for Signet the UK’s largest jeweller and Mother’s Day is the largest turnover opportunity for the UK’s largest pub and restaurant operators Mitchells and Butlers. Planning for key calendar events is obviously important (i.e. product mix, promotions, pricing and staffing); in particular retailers must ensure that they are not left with excess stock (with ‘specific’ branding) after the event! The main point is this – given the tribulations that many retailers face during the ‘restructuring’ that is occurring presently on the High Street optimising key calendar events is more of an imperative than it has ever been before.

The following two tabs change content below.
Chris Edger

Chris Edger

Professor of Multi-Unit Leadership at Birmingham City University