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JEREMY’S JOURNAL Business blogging by publisher Jeremy Corner of Blue Eyed Sun.


Everything Must Go


Jeremy Corner, managing director of greeting card publisher Blue Eyed Sun, looks at the techniques major high street chains use to maximise their January sales.


I recently watched a fascinating


documentary which went behind-the-scenes at major high street retailers like John Lewis, Oasis, Jones Bootmaker, New Look, Top Shop and Multiyork to see how they encourage consumers to spend more, particularly during their January sales. Here are 18 key insights that independent card and gift retailers can learn from the bigger multiples when launching their sales:


1. Sales aren't all about clearance items


Multiple retailers, like John Lewis, buy in stock known as ‘Special Buys’ to sell at discounted prices during the sales. This buying accounts for a significant proportion of what is sold to consumers during the sales. Plan to have stock that you can sell specifically during your sale period instead of just focusing on leftover stock clearance.


2. Visual display merchandising is key


As one John Lewis merchandiser points out on the documentary, "We've got a lot of expensive product, so if you want to sell it you have to display it in a way that makes people want to purchase it.” How you present your sale items and the signage you use will boost your sales. Make it tempting.


3. Mark downs must be carefully considered Jones Bootmaker’s entire senior management team spend two whole days locked in a room deciding what goes on sale and at what discount. Some 40% of its annual sales for its business are taken during the winter and summer sales so their


34 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


decisions are vital to the profits and turnover of the business. Too much discount and the


business loses profit, too little and it gets stuck with dead stock. Make time to focus on getting your offering right.


4. There are rules to discount signs in your windows


Legally you can put up a ‘50% off’ sale sign in your window as long as at least 10% of your stock has a 50% discount and it has been on sale at the list price for a meaningful length of time. Multiyork's md suggests this should be around 28 days. Ideally you should state when the item was on sale at the list price.


5. Phasing down drives sales If you stagger your sales discounts down in stages it helps to drive sales. Consumers then have to weigh up the choice between buying it at the current discount and having


Above: Thinking about how your shop's sales work can make the tills ring. Below: Shopping is an emotional experience, making excitement levels rise to as much as 80%.


the item they want or waiting for the price to drop further and risk the product being sold out. Multiples use phasing down pricing as a call to action for shoppers to buy then and there.


6. Other clearance channels Jones Bootmaker has a warehouse clearance sale that it markets in a very small way in its local area. What it doesn’t sell there it clears to traders abroad and removes the branding from the shoes so that it doesn't damage sales in the UK. It's worth having other channels to clear your dead stock. eBay, craft fairs and car boots are all options to consider.


7. Understanding Oniomaniacs Oniomania is the technical term for shopaholism, which affects 1 in 10 people. Bargain hunting physically affects the pulse and stress levels of shoppers. Dr Jack Kreindler has tracked shoppers and discovered that their heart rate increases from 60 to 100 beats per minute when they find an item they like, and stress/excitement levels rise from 20% to 80%. According to retail psychologist, Dr David Lewis, the body also releases reward


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