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Winter Clearance Strategy 101

Winter Clearance Strategy 101

As the Christmas shopping season comes to a close, it’s time to start thinking about what’s next. Even if you had a spectacular holiday season, there’s no reason to rest on your laurels. Keep up the momentum by carefully planning for your winter clearance. You might be asking if late December or early January is too soon to think about a winter clearance sale – especially since this year’s winter has been surprisingly mild in most of the country. But the truth is that the days and weeks after Christmas are actually the perfect time to start clearing out your inventory and planning for the months ahead.

There are three main reasons why you would want to have a clearance sale in the days following Christmas. The first reason has to do with your stock – you’re going to want to start getting rid of your winter inventory. Even with a slight markdown, it won’t all disappear overnight, so you don’t have to worry about depleting your store before the spring lines can come in. The second reason is to make up for Christmas sales. If your holiday season didn’t live up to your expectations, now is the time to play catch up. And the third reason is to simply get rid of items that either aren’t selling well, or won’t sell anymore – think about your products that are Christmas-themed. It’ll be hard to sell them in January, so do your best to move them now.

When should you have your winter clearance?
According to U.S. News & World Report, the best time to have a winter clearance is in January. One reason this is the best time is that you’ll probably have a lot of customers returning items to your store. The clothes they received as Christmas presents might not fit properly, or may not be the right style for them. Don’t look at this as a negative thing. After all, having a return policy is another service you offer so that people feel comfortable shopping at your store. You can further use it to your advantage by having a great clearance sale – many people returning items to your store will use that money at your establishment again. They could even spend more than the cost of the product they returned.

Promoting your sale is of the utmost importance. As with any promotion, you’ll want to have several layers of advertising for your winter clearance. Timing is also key here – you don’t want to promote your winter clearance before the Christmas shopping season is over, or you could miss out on sales because people are waiting for the items to receive a price cut. The best option is to act as if you aren’t even going to have a winter clearance. Then, in the days after Christmas, promote your clearance a lot. Grab some of our sale signs to put up in the front windows to attract the attention of passersby. The bright colors and clear text will excite shoppers and entice them inside.

Beyond that, make sure to use your social media feeds to their full advantage. Reward your followers with early notice of your sale. “Insider knowledge” like this will remind them why they follow you online, and they could encourage their friends to do the same. The more consumers you can reach, the better the chances of more people coming into your store.

Surprise your customers with great clearance deals.Surprise your customers with great clearance deals.

Displaying your clearance items
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the products you need to display your clearance items can actually be found in our own clearance section. We have discounted sugarcane hanger, table sets and gem boxes, among many other great products. The thing to remember when planning your own clearance sale is that it in no way speaks poorly of the items themselves. There’s nothing wrong with an item on clearance, it’s simply time for it to move on, so to speak. The best way to achieve this goal is through proper display and sales technique.

Too many retailers simply toss their clearance items in a large bin and expect customers to dig through them. This might work in some cases, but it’s not at all visually appealing. When you’re planning your winter clearance, you should use the same rules of good display that you would with any other product. In this case, you may want to have a special clearance area so shoppers know where to find these deals. Make sure this area is well-labeled, so there’s no mistaking it for anything else.

There is also something to say for having a store-wide clearance event. Ed Butler, a retailer with nearly 30 years of experience, said to Gift Shop magazine that a store-wide sale will draw more customers to your establishment. He went on to say that the more traffic you can pack into your store, the better. Beyond that, your sale price cuts should be significant so as not to disappoint shoppers, and well-labeled so customers don’t have to wonder about prices.

Make your clearance sale an event
Excitement sells, and it especially sells items that are marked down. To make the most of your winter clearance, follow the guidelines above. Have great displays that showcase the items to your customers and don’t treat clearance items as second-rate. If you can make the customer see that an item is both high-quality and well-priced, they’ll be more likely to make a purchase because they feel like they’re getting an excellent bargain.

“Remember: Excitement sells.”

You should also make the event seem both secretive and short-lasting. For example, when advertising the sale online, use wording that suggests to the customer that you’re a good friend giving them a bit of secret knowledge – i.e. that there’s about to be a huge, incredible sale. They won’t be able to keep the “secret” to themselves and will spread it by word of mouth – an invaluable and cheap advertising method. And if it seems like the promotion will only last a day or two, you’ll see foot traffic increase as more people look to get the best deals before they disappear.