Summer Slowdown: How Retailers Can Combat Cooling Foot Traffic During the Hottest Season

Summer retail sales | Shopify Retail blog

Summer is time for adventures in the sun, but as temperatures heat up, it’s not unusual for sales to cool off.

While it may be a vacationer’s favorite season, summer can be tough on retailers. For example, In 2017, June and July sales were weaker than forecasted and August’s ecommerce sales had the biggest decline since 2014, according to MarketWatch.

This slump in sales is due to many shoppers spending their money elsewhere — often on traveling, concerts, festivals, and sports events, just to name a few. But this slump doesn’t need to be inevitable. You can combat lagging revenues by employing a few seasonal sales-boosting strategies. Here are 10 ideas to get the (beach) ball rolling:

1. Throw a Party

People are out and about during the summer, so host an event and invite them to stop by your store or pop-up shop. Offer a free class or product demonstration. Tap your vendors and hold a trunk show. Or throw an ice cream social and get to know your community and customers over sundaes or cones.

The kids are out of school so be sure to consider every member of the family with activities or gifts to keep children happy and entertained.

NEXT STEPS: Learn how you can create community and build trust by hosting an event series.

2. Ramp Up Social Media

While shopping habits might take a vacation during the summer, social media posting doesn’t. In fact, it’s often in full force as customers post their vacation, graduation, and holiday pictures.

Create a robust social media schedule to increase your visibility. While users are browsing their friends’ posts, they’ll see yours and be enticed to shop.

NEXT STEPS: Read more about which social channels will work best for your retail brand.

3. Dress For Summer

Lula Mae summer window display | Shopify Retail blog

Image: Pinterest

Turn your location into a shopping “vacation” by dressing your windows and ecommerce site for the season. If you can relate your products to things customers do during the summer, you can become an important part of the season.

For example, booksellers can put a lounge chair in the window with suggestions for beach reads. Or a home accents store can show off patio décor. Keeping your display fresh gives customers new reasons to shop.

NEXT STEPS: Here are 10 unique window displays to help you brainstorm ideas for your own. Or, if you're already thinking about the holidays (high five for being so prepared!), check out Christmas Window Display Ideas, Inspiration, and Best Practices for Retail Stores.

4. Partner Up

Sometimes two heads are better than one. Join forces with another retailer that serves the same audience and brainstorm events or sales you can do together. Distribute coupons to each other’s stores. Or create a special package.

For example, a bakery and a deli can team up to create a boxed picnic lunch for both sets of customers.

NEXT STEPS: Learn how to bolster sales with partnerships and co-sponsored events.

5. Welcome Travelers

If your city gets a good amount of tourists during the summer, promote your store to visitors. Bring flyers to your local welcome center. Contact tour companies and create an exclusive offer for their customers. And make sure your company is listed on Yelp and Google. More thanthree-quarters of travelers use review sites when planning their vacation.

NEXT STEPS Here’s how you can optimize your Google Places listing and encourage customer reviews.

6. Create Special Products For Summer

Limited edition products can create a buzz in your store. Starbucks, for example, offers summer-only food items as well as specialty coffee blends. In 2017, they partnered with clothing designer Lilly Pulitzer to create a limited edition water bottle, which flew off the shelves.

You can create a special “Summer of 2018” collectible, and make it an annual tradition.

NEXT STEPS: Read more about sourcing products for your retail store.

7. Get Outside

Retail sidewalk sale | Shopify Retail blogYour shopping experience doesn’t have to start and stop at your storefront’s threshold. Instead, try extending your shop outdoors.

If possible, host a sidewalk sale to grab your customers’ attention as they drive or walk by. If your location gets lots of foot traffic, consider putting a water bowl out for pets. Their owners will appreciate the gesture and window shop as they pause in front of your store.

NEXT STEPS: Learn how to choose the right events for your in-person sales.

8. Hold a Contest

Everyone loves to win something, so brainstorm some contest ideas that spark word-of-mouth advertising.

Give away raffle tickets for a free prize to people who come in your store. Have a photo contest, asking customers to share their vacation pictures or photos of pets or kids on your Facebook or Instagram page. Give a prize to the photo that gets the most likes. Or you can create an online giveaway that encourages customers to visit your physical store.

NEXT STEPS: Read our guide on creating retail contests that convert and check out our list of 14 giveaway and contest ideas to get you started.

9. Participate in Festivals and Fairs

During the summer many cities have festivals and fairs, and retailers can often rent a booth. Look into the events in your area and see if you can participate. Not only will you be where your customers are, you’ll get exposure to new shoppers who may not be aware of your business.

NEXT STEPS: Our guide to nailing the in-person selling experience can help retailers ensure their first offline sales events are successful.

10. Offer More Incentives

Summer is known for sales, and for good reason; they draw out customers who are looking for good deals. If it makes sense for your brand, create a promotion calendar with discounts, special offers, coupons, free gifts, and/or bundles.

And if you don’t already have a loyalty program, start one and consider giving double credit on certain days of the week.

NEXT STEPS: Learn more about how to move more merchandise with the science of sales and create your own customer loyalty program.

Moving Forward With Stronger Summer Sales

Although you may have seen a sales slump in summers past, this season doesn’t have to be such a struggle. The work you do during this summer can set up your fourth quarter to be even stronger. You’ll weather the summer slump and be top of mind for back-to-school and holiday shopping.