Spring Into…Spring

There are certainly no certainties in life, but I can almost guarantee these things this year — spring will still arrive, Easter will happen on April 4 and people will still spend money on decorations and gifts for spring holidays.

But just as there has been a slight shift from Christmas celebrations to “Winter Holidays” in the past couple of years, there has also been a shift from Easter to “Spring Celebrations.” While many people celebrate Easter and spring with traditional icons, there are others taking a more generic approach.

Offering a variety of seasonal products in classic spring hues and patterns, such as flowers and pastels, and integrating these into the more specific spring themes is an easy way to draw shoppers in. Because times are still tight, your goal is to give consumers a reason to shop at your store this spring for all their party needs — be it bunny balloons or simple spring streamers.

“One key to growing sales in a recession is for retailers to give customers compelling reasons to shop in their stores,” said George Whalin, president and CEO of Retail Management Consultants. “Consumers haven’t stopped buying, they are simply spending less overall. As a result, retailers must be very creative in how they advertise, merchandise their stores, hold special events and serve their customers."

So why should a customer do business with your store this spring? Because you have the product they need along with a variety of creative ideas and suggestions to make it a complete, hassle-free experience.

Spring-load Sales
The first day of spring is March 20, three days after St. Patrick’s Day, which makes it a great time to transition over into a variety of pastel colored product commonly associated with the spring season. While ducks and eggs don’t have to make an immediate appearance, the emergence of brighter colors and decorations hinting at the coming of the season can get shoppers thinking about their purchases earlier.

“With dollar stores increasing the competition for the consumer dollar, party stores have to be competitive to be successful — be original, unique and attractive,” said Daniel Butler, vice president of retail operations at the National Retail Federation (NRF). “Because Easter will be coming a bit early this year, retailers should adjust their promotional calendar accordingly, focusing on the 10 days before the holiday to really push sales and remind the consumer that Easter is just around the corner.”

And while not everyone will celebrate Easter, many will be ready to escape the tedium of winter, with an emphasis on everything from flowers and sunshine to butterflies and bunnies.

But this doesn’t mean the traditional icons should be overlooked, as bunnies, ducks and eggs will continue to be a strong focus for many consumers. Easter baskets will need to be filled with small toys, novelties and candy, and plush will continue to find their way into the mix.

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Originally posted Monday, Oct. 5, 2009