24 Apr

How to Beat Retail’s Summertime Slump

WFS Guide to beating the summertime slump

Fantastic weather, outdoor happy hours, backyard barbecues, long vacations…all the things we love about summer are double-edged swords for retailers, luring customers away from stores in favor of the season’s sun and fun. Even experienced boutique owners can find it challenging to beat the so-called “summertime slump,” when foot traffic and sales alike can take a serious nosedive as shoppers turn their attention elsewhere. As we head into the summer months, consider these simple ways to help your boutique thrive all season long.

1. Offer Seasonal Promotions: There’s a good reason so many retailers schedule sales during summer holidays. Because lots of people travel during the season’s long holiday weekends, those dates can be among the toughest selling periods for almost any type of business. However, festive summer occasions are also a great excuse to schedule a promotion! Consider offering a free gift, buy-one-get-one deal, or a sale on sale during Memorial Day, Labor Day, or the Fourth of July to remind customers to shop. If you’re worried too many customers might be out of town during the biggest holiday weekends, you could also focus on minor holidays (like Flag Day), which still offer a festive reason for shoppers to stop by.

2. Go to Your Customers: If your town hosts an annual festival, fair or flea market, consider setting up a booth that features some of your best-selling items. Not only will you garner extra sales from a built-in audience of people who are ready to shop, you might also have a chance to expand your customer base by connecting with attendees who were previously unfamiliar with your boutique.

3. Advertise to Tourists: If you happen to live in a destination that’s popular with summer vacationers, make a special effort to get on the radar of travelers who are headed your way. Start by reaching out to your local tourism office or welcome center to see if you can drop off flyers that they can share with visitors. (You might even consider including a special discount offer on the flyer to nudge tourists toward your boutique.) You can also reach out to travel websites that cover your region to see if you can be included in their roundups of places to visit in your town. Finally, make sure your business has an up-to-date presence on sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook, so people exploring your area can find you easily and know what you’re all about.

4. Merchandise for Summer: People are out and about during the summer more than any other time of year, so new shoppers are likely to pass your boutique while they’re on a stroll or exploring a different part of town. To entice customers inside, dress up the exterior of your shop for the summer months. Get your windows ready for the season with fresh merchandise, and then add in some colorful props with summery flair. You might set a beachy scene with bright umbrellas, towels, and beach balls to complement a display of shorts and swimwear, or deck out your windows in patriotic red, white, and blue to promote a Fourth of July sale. Outside, show off your green thumb by adding a few planters filled with summertime blooms in eye-catching hues. If possible, use the planters to frame your door, creating a welcoming path to entry.

5. Turn Your Focus to Online Sales: Even if it’s tough to drive foot traffic to your boutique during the summer months, your customers can shop from anywhere online! During the slower season, focus heavily on email marketing and social media, which can encourage customers to shop even if they’re lounging on the beach far away. Consider offering a few online-only promotions, or even creating an online exclusive collection to catch the eyes of shoppers on the web. Just as you would in-store, it’s also important to update your online merchandising. Make sure your homepage reflects your latest holiday promotions and gets a makeover in vibrant summertime colors, so it feels just as fresh and bright as the season itself.

What are your best tricks for beating the summertime slump in your boutique? Share your advice for a successful summer in the comments!

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