What is Seasonal Merchandise, and How Does it Drive Sales in General Stores?

The Role of Seasonal Merchandise in Driving Sales in General Stores

As the leaves change color and the crisp air signals the holiday season, general merchandise stores nationwide brace themselves for the influx of seasonal shoppers. It’s the season of hot cocoa, warm sweaters, and the thrilling hustle-bustle of holiday shopping! However, seasonal retailing has its own set of hurdles. Stores must expertly juggle inventory management, meet evolving customer demand, and ensure the businesses stay profitable amidst the chaos. Stay tuned as we unravel how to use seasonal merchandise to your store’s advantage.

What is Seasonal Merchandise?

In simple terms, seasonal merchandise refers to products that are particularly relevant or in demand during specific periods or occasions throughout the year. This could mean anything from beach toys and summer wear during the hot months to snow boots and holiday decorations for winter, to plants and gardening tools in the spring, and school supplies in the fall. 

These products resonate with the current season and fulfill ongoing consumer trends and demands. As a general merchandise store, effectively leveraging seasonal merchandise can give your store a competitive edge, driving customer engagement and boosting sales in the long run.

Why Seasonal Merchandise is Important in General Stores

For several reasons, seasonal merchandise is a critical component in the assortment of general stores.

  • Firstly, they drive foot traffic

By stocking products that are in sync with the season or an upcoming holiday, stores can attract customers searching for these specific items. This works especially well for convenience stores due to their strategic locations and quick access to various goods.

  • Secondly, seasonal merchandise encourages impulse purchases.

Customers who come in for one seasonal item often leave with more than they had planned to buy. For instance, a customer shopping for a Halloween pumpkin may also end up buying themed sweets or decorations that they might also like (similar to a butterfly effect).

  • Lastly, it helps increase sales.

Seasonal items often come with a feeling of exclusivity. Customers are aware these items are available only for a limited period, which can entice them to purchase now rather than later. This sense of scarcity can effectively boost your store’s sales.

5 Tips For Seasonal Merchandising

Seasonal merchandise planning can pose some unique challenges for retailers, owing to the short life cycles of products that may only last for weeks or even days. Here are five crucial strategies for optimizing your seasonal merchandise planning:

  • Account for More Variables

Planning for seasonal sales can be unpredictable, with many variables that can impact your merchandising strategy. These could include pricing, consumer preferences, competitors, events, promotions, vendors, and logistics. A retail-specific demand forecast can help you consider all these variables in your seasonal merchandise planning, leading to reduced inventory costs, boosted sales, and improved relationships with vendors.

  • Calculate Seasonality for Every SKU at Every Store

Every SKU/Location combination will have its seasonality curve. Therefore, stores should plan for these different seasonality curves. AI-managed merchandising software can make this task easier, identifying hidden opportunities and optimizing your seasonal plans accordingly.

  • Optimize Inventory Levels for Successful Promotions

Promotions are essential for increasing seasonal traffic and sales. However, launching promotions without considering inventory can lead to poor performance. Retailers can employ analytics-driven promotion software that plugs into their inventory and pricing data to factor in these variables for seasonal promotions automatically.

  • Rebalance Seasonal Merchandise Across Stores

Seasonal cycles can cause variances, leaving some stores with too much or too little inventory. An inventory balancing system can recommend inter-store transfers before problems occur, avoiding lost sales and overstock issues. A popular choice to prevent shortages is to use a general merchandise distributor because they can act as your supply chain’s middleman and inventory manager. They use modern technological solutions to track inventory levels, monitor consumer trends, and help develop meaningful business relationships.

  • Protect ROI by Optimizing Markdowns

Selling off seasonal merchandise at a discount once the season ends is often necessary. Advanced analytics systems can help retailers avoid the financial impact of last-minute markdowns and suggest markdowns with optimal discounts to maximize ROI.

Pro Tip: Carefully monitor inventory levels year-round.

In the words of Steven Pogson, founder of e-commerce growth agency FirstPier, “You want to maintain just enough inventory to satisfy demand, but not so much that you’ll have a ton of leftovers at the end of the season.”

He continues, “Don’t be concerned about low inventory levels, especially if you can swiftly restock your products. Watch for any unexpected drops in your daily sales and inventory levels. The fact that these are items your devoted clients have learned to expect from you will also assist you in identifying your profitable regulars that you must continue selling alongside your seasonal products.”

Pogson suggests investing in automation to fulfill seasonal demand. “It’s easy to see your stock levels every day thanks to a reliable POS system. It automatically records every sale and updates inventory data in real time.”

How Wholesale General Merchandise Distributors Can Help

Wholesale general merchandise distributors like Atlantic Dominion Distributors play a crucial role in successfully implementing a seasonal merchandise strategy. They have extensive networks and strong relationships with various suppliers, enabling them to source and provide a wide range of products that are in tune with the season.

With over 145 years of industry experience, Atlantic Dominion Distributors specializes in providing a diverse mix of seasonal merchandise, making it a reliable partner for convenience stores looking to capitalize on seasonal trends. Our commitment to using cutting-edge technology for inventory management and trend analysis enables us to ensure our clients have the right products at the right time.

Ready to upgrade your seasonal merchandise strategy? Contact us today.