For many small and local retailers, summer’s sunny days and warm weather come at a high cost. As consumers take vacations and soak up the sun, they spend less time in stores. As a result, retailers often feel a slip in sales during the summer months, but it doesn’t have to be that way. This summer, try out some new techniques for beating the summertime sales slip.
Tap into Tourism
Not all small businesses are created equal, while some thrive during the summer season, others may feel the summertime sales slip. Take tourism. It’s a boon for many retailers in the summer. In tourist hubs, many welcome the season with doors wide open for vacationers. However, businesses in these hubs that do not traditionally cater to tourists — particularly those near a beach, lake, national park or other destination — should consider new ways to tap into tourist dollars. Consider partnering with a local hotel or bed-and-breakfast to offer discounts to their guests, or advertise in a local visitor’s guide. You never know what travelers will want or need during their stay, but you’ll want them to know how to find your business while they’re in town.
Target Home Buyers
Like tourism, home buying is seasonal according to economists and also picks up in the spring and summer months, but the opportunity isn’t just for real estate agents. Home improvement, hardware, lawn and garden and décor stores, plus many in-home service providers, can benefit from the real estate uptick by paying attention to the right audience. Consider a first-time homebuyer discount or a congratulatory message to new homeowners.
Engage with Downtown
Even if no tourists storm your town’s streets this summer, chances are good that downtown will still be abuzz. Many Main Street organizations and local groups host downtown events throughout the summer, such as free concerts, street fairs and road races. Getting involved with these events helps to increase your business’ visibility within the community. By setting up a booth or sponsoring an event, you can network with other local business owners and meet new customers.
Whether at a downtown event or outside your own storefront, make an effort to spend time outdoors this summer. Take advantage of the warm weather to host a sidewalk sale by putting some discounted items outside your front doors. Consider setting up tables and benches outside your store front for people to gather with their friends and neighbors. By interacting with people outside, you’ll grab their attention and give them a reason to come inside to explore all your business has to offer. You’ll also foster conversation, which can boost your word-of-mouth marketing strategy.
Find Other Successes
Increasing sales isn’t the only way to win this summer. If things have slowed down, you can focus on other areas for growth, especially your employees. Invest in employee morale by hosting a summer barbecue for the team. Train and educate employees on the new products you’ll have in store for fall. Listen to their feedback about the most recent busy season. These activities can only help in the long run, but you may not have time to execute them after the summer lull.
Bill Brunelle is co-founder of Independent We Stand, a cause-marketing campaign sponsored by STIHL, which is dedicated to educating communities about the importance and strong economic benefits of supporting locally owned businesses. Independent We Stand inspires small business owners across the country to celebrate their locally owned status and help consumers understand the importance of supporting them. For more information, visit www.independentwestand.org. @IndWeStand