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Festive season retail is all about timing

By Eben Esterhuizen


According to Stats SA, the main contributors to the 2,4% increase were retailers in textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods (contributing 0,8 of a percentage point), all 'other' retailers (contributing 0,7 of a percentage point); and general dealers (contributing 0,5 of a percentage point).


More specifically, the largest annual growth rates recorded in June 2019 were recorded for:

• Retailers in household furniture, appliances and equipment (5,2%).

• Retailers in textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods (4,8%).

Planning for Q4 and the Christmas buying season includes having a sales calendar scheduling enough time for the key dates ahead.

The run-up to festive season sales can start as early as Boss’s Day which falls on Wednesday 16 October. Having unusual, well-priced specials advertised from the beginning of October will bring customers into the sales funnel area early and the old adage that “the money is in the list” remains true.

Social media competitions are a strategic way to encourage people to share their email address or cell phone number. Then, as potential customers, they can be targeted via omnichannel platforms for the next key sales dates. This is something Net Florist does well.

“Social is the new shop window: the place that consumers browse to find ideas and inspiration.”


Other important dates to plan ahead for on the marketing calendar are:


· Diwali – around 27 or 28 October 2019: There are different types of opportunities for retailers before Diwali as it’s a time of spring cleaning and celebration, so sales could be around lighting, home decor, fireworks, gifts, food and sweet treats.

· Halloween – Thursday, 31 October: We’re seeing more uptake for Halloween in South Africa and it was big on social media locally last year. This is another chance to run a fun (starting early) competition to entice potential customers - even if there’s no “hard sell” of products.


“We absolutely see an uptick in traffic and retailer promotional activity that starts 1 November.” Marissa Tarleton, CMO of RetailMeNot


· Single’s Day – Monday, 11 November: The first of the huge global shopping events. Since the first Single’s Day in China (Guanggun Jie) it has become the largest e-commerce event in the world. Last year Alibaba broke sales records, generating $30.8 billion in 24 hours.


The date was chosen as the number 1 symbolises a single person and 11 (November) two people finding each other. In South Africa, it’s catching fire, with online brands such as Zando getting it right with a positive call to action (well - call to shopping) of Affirmation, Action, Reinvention.


“Global shoppers buy earlier throughout Black Week - 50% of holiday shopping was complete by Monday, 3 December 2018.” Kate Walters, exec planning director, Swirl McGarryBowen


· Black Friday – Friday, 29 November: Last year our local Black Friday was described by the media as a “buying frenzy” and it appeared that way with websites crashing under the strain of great deals and keen customers.


Data from Absa bank highlights that two out of three South African consumers participated in Black Friday shopping at some point, so this is a massive opportunity for retailers. Research also shows consumers are holding back on buying durable goods and waiting for Black Friday specials.





According to BankservAfrica Economic Transaction Index (BETI) retail sales over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period most likely "saved" the South African economy in November.


· Small Business Saturday - Saturday, 30 November: This is such a great day for small businesses to begin creating hype around months before. The event was created by American Express in 2010 and falls in between the Black Friday and Cyber Monday heavyweights – the ideal time to showcase bespoke local products, catching the more discerning shoppers.


“From the 2017 to the 2018 holiday season, mobile-first shoppers, grew by 22%.” Facebook Holiday Marketing Guide 2019


· Cyber Monday - Monday, 2 December: $7.9 billion was spent on this day in 2018 (19,3% up from 2017, so it’s likely this year will see the same kind of traction. In South Africa, according to the BETI report, there was 36.4% growth in online sales for Cyber Monday.


· Green Monday - Monday, 9 December: In 2007 eBay came up with Green Monday which is held on the second Monday of December. It’s basically a reminder to buy Christmas Gifts and, as the name suggests, there could be some fun branding around this date – with “green” or for products which are aligned with green in terms of being eco-friendly.


· Free Shipping Day - Saturday, 14 December: Falling on the second last weekend before Christmas this is the global event where online stores have free shipping. As marketing guru Giedre Kronberga says, “It’s yet another try to keep customers shopping after the Black Friday-Cyber Monday craze is over.”


It’s noteworthy on the festive season sales calendar as free delivery is one of the key incentives to online shopping. In fact, stats show nine out of ten customers consider free shipping the top incentive to shop online.


While much of the upcoming sales focus will be online it is also worth making the bricks and mortar customer experience inviting having great specials on offer. According to eMarketer, “42% of US holiday shoppers said they shopped in-store for the holiday ambiance, and 27% of US holiday shoppers said they shopped in-store to spend time with family.”


Locally, families who haven’t the cash to go on holiday often find shopping in-store a pleasurable way to spend time together, so family-themed events could be a sales magnet for retailers. Instead of the best debit order, may the best festive season promotion win.

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