Here Comes Peter Cottontail – Check His Wallet!

By T.J. Reid, Editor of Fashion Advantage 

TJ ReedThis year’s late Easter will keep all retailers waiting on edge to see if the extra time will bring a larger basket of bucks.  Spring will already be sprung, and certain early season apparel groups almost headed for the sale racks. Start promoting those summer brights and early pastels on arrival; can’t wait for the bunny.

But never fear, consumers are on schedule to spend $17.2 billion dollars before the April 20th holiday.  Although a large bundle of that is for food, decorations and candy, there is still a sizable figure making its way into the Mom and Pop local stores.

National Retail Federation figures say 25.4 percent of shoppers will spend $3 billion on clothing, $2 billion on chocolates and candy, and $2 billion on gifts and greeting cards.  Over 80 percent of all Americans will participate in Easter, an average of $145 each.  Surprisingly, men will spend 17 percent more than women, although at all other times of the year, women outspend them.  Let’s hope they’re spending it in apparel stores, buying jewelry, clothing and gift cards for their significant others. (Offer Chocolate bunnies with each gift card! No girl can pass on that.)

easter 2014, gifts for easter, gifts for easter 2014, selling easterFirst we have to get them in the store. I don’t think price is the answer, because most shoppers will be waiting till close to the date, which always means they are rushed and not caring about the cost, just the time and ease of selection.  I suggest fun events and promotions to attract their attention and creative a festive atmosphere to encourage participation and spending.

In my book, “What Mother Never Told Ya About Promotions”, there are details about “Egg-citing” and also ‘Basket of Savings,” both which are easy, simple and inexpensive to do.

Basket of Savings is placing an Easter basket filled with plastic eggs, the ones that can be filled with candies or other goodies, near the check-out counter or even at the front door.  Inside each one, put a discount number, beginning at 15 percent up to 50percent, and ask customer to “pick an egg.”  You can do this, at the register after they have finished shopping before they check out, or you can allow them to choose on arrival so they already know how much discount they have to use.

I personally feel the latter usually encourages more spending, but some retailers prefer the surprise at the end.  Either way, use the chart in my book to determine discount amounts and numbers, such as in a total of 100 numbers, you have one 50 percent, 5 at 40 percent, 10 at 30 percent, 20 at 20 percent, and finally the balance at 15 percent.  Never go as low as 10 percent, it will make no impression on the customers, and almost make the contest seem unimportant and cheap. When sales figures are totaled, I promise those discount contest markdowns will still be profitable, and fun!

easter 2014, gifts for easter, gifts for easter 2014, selling easter“Egg-citing” is a catch phrase for whatever you want to do.  Some stores have actual Easter egg hunts in the store, placing prizes in pockets and purses, etc.  and offering hints throughout the store from dressing rooms to checkout. Many have coloring contests for the local kindergarten and use pictures as wall display – family members flock in to see their young artists on display.  Use your imagination.  Just do something!

Take the opportunity to post some of the activity  in pictures on your Facebook page as it is happens. Share the fun and friends will want to come join in. Again, don’t forget the chocolate eggs, and why not add some bunny ears on the staff?

To learn more about this and other promotional ideas, you can attend my workshop, “Planning Special Events – How-Do, How Much, When and Why” on Saturday, April 5, on AmericasMart Building 3 Floor 8 during the upcoming April Atlanta Apparel Market.  And LIKE Fashion Advantage on Facebook.  I try to post on a regular basis with new creative ways to help you entertain and reward your customers.

T.J. Reid is editor of Fashion Advantage magazine, and author of several books on successful retailing. For more information about her, please visit

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