Even before the last of the Christmas Day turkey had been digested, some shoppers were preparing to brave the queues to pick up a bargain. One store manager we spoke to talked of how some shoppers had been waiting outside Highcross Leicester since 11pm on Christmas Day night, to ensure that they were first in line to benefit from big retailer discounts. Whilst we weren’t gripped by the post-Christmas sales to quite that extent, our own Boxing Day store visits provided an interesting insight into differing approaches to both communicating and managing end of year retail sales.
As you would expect, the colour red still largely dominated stores. But the different tactics used to deliver sale message executions were noticeable. Many retailers again kept things simple, although largely unimaginative, with large red sale window decals. Unsurprisingly, it is these stores that, whilst perhaps offering the biggest discounts, often also deliver the poorest retail standards. We didn’t have to walk too far to find stores where little attention had been given to how sale product was presented, leaving shoppers to wade through discounted stock that, in some cases, was literally piled in a heap – surely harming the likelihood of maximising sell-through. The likes of Zara and River Island were just a couple of examples we came across.
Despite this, there were some highlights on our Boxing Day travels. Urban Outfitters has used a “hello 2015, goodbye 2014” message for its winter season sale along with visually strong typography in the form of an iconic percentage symbol – creating a bold and impactful campaign throughout the store.
Schuh was also particularly strong, delivering a consistent sales theme in-store and online that looked and felt beautifully ‘gift wrapped’ – using sales tape and digital screens in their window displays to great effect. The growing number of retailers now embracing digital technology to help drive real cut-through in a crowded retail environment was perhaps the most notable trend this year. Schuh was one great exponent of this, but we saw others that stood out too, such as Smiggle – bringing a sense of playfulness to its in-store sale through the use of digital. Top marks for creative digital content, however, must go to Three. The mobile retailer’s series of offbeat sales messages that included “Anyone would still think it’s Christmas” and “It’s never too late for presents” made for a witty retail activation and provided a welcome change from the norm.
Elsewhere, Levi’s patchwork denim sale message and Superdry’s “Winter. The Event” knitwear sale provided some eye-catching window and POS displays, whilst Reiss anchored its in-store sales with an emotive and positively refreshing “with love” tagline – demonstrating that retailers and shoppers alike should still care about the shopping experience, even during this bargain-frenzied season.