This month we kick off the holiday sales season – and since many markets and swap meets are already in full swing with planned celebrations for the harvest moon and Halloween, here at the Merchandiser, we thought we’d take a deeper look at what vendors and market merchants across the country can anticipate in the coming months – the BUSIEST sales months of the year!
Will sales increase this year?
ShopperTrak, an industry leader in retail analytics, has been counting foot traffic at malls, markets and stores since 1993. Their most recent report, cited by the National Retail Federation, reports their confidence that once again, Black Friday will be the busiest shopping day of the year, with Super Saturday (the day following Black Friday) following closely behind, and the Sunday before Christmas, Dec 18 this year, rounding out the top 3 biggest sales days of the year.
All current indications are pointing to the 2016 holiday season pulling down numbers just as strong as last year, which topped $626 billion in total sales. According to the National Retail Federation, US consumers spent 3% more in 2015 then they had in 2014, and the trend looks to continue for this coming year, which is great news for swap meet and flea market vendors.
What Are Shoppers Looking For?
Good Prices. That’s it. For the past several years now, shoppers have either jumped into holiday sales very early- when merchandise first comes onto the market and retailers are offering strong discounts to draw in shoppers, or they have waited until the last possible minute to make a purchase, holding out until products are marked down in price. The key in making a sale is offering best-available price. As Jack Kleinhenz noted in his 2015 retail sales summary, “More than anything, perhaps, is that consumers have become conditioned to expect discounts and promotions. As the TV commercial says ‘nobody pays retail anymore.'” Shoppers are looking for decent quality merchandise but the real key in triggering a purchase is the price.
For flea market and swap meet sellers, this is great news. Swap meets and flea markets are already well known as providing unusual and eclectic merchandise, and the ability to haggle on a price is a huge piece of the ambiance of flea market buying and selling. Take a good look at your product offerings and decide if you can either re-price a few things, or lower your price, offering a special holiday discount to draw in more shoppers, and make more sales. Don’t forget signage, either – putting up a large, clearly labeled sign or banner promoting your holiday discount prices will be a quick and easy way to boost your sales.
How Will the Mobile Revolution Impact Holiday Sales?
Your market may not have added a Pokémon Go stop yet, but the digital trend continues in full force. What can you expect for this year? SOTI Inc., a leader in enterprise mobility management for the retail industry, has published its annual Retail Mobility Survey and they state that “consumers prefer mobile-friendly retailers: Mobile Point of Sale (POS) demand continues to grow: 7 out of 10 consumers prefer mobile POS instead of traditional cashier checkout, an increase of 20 percent from the previous year.” What does this mean for you?
While cash may still be the quickest way to transact business in your booth, with so many markets Wi-Fi-friendly and the proliferation of easy to use mobile payment services like Square, PayPal or Apple Pay, if you aren’t yet accepting credit and debit cards, now is the time to get set up. It really can be as simple and downloading an app to your phone or tablet, setting up an account linked to your bank, and plugging in a card-swipe plug in.
SOTI also reports that an additional 45 percent of shoppers say that they would be more likely to make a purchase at a booth or stall that offers a mobile POS, an increase of 25 percent from 2014, so by keeping up with the technology, you may just grab yourself a bunch of additional sales this holiday season.
One more technology-related thing to consider: Showrooming. Many shoppers now browse with their smartphone in their hand, looking up prices for merchandise on Google or eBay and using those price points as a comparison against your prices. Be aware that shoppers may approach you and use an online price as a haggling start off point. SOTI notes “the showrooming phenomenon has increased by one-fifth, with 90 percent of consumers now using their smartphone to compare in-store prices with online Internet prices.” So if you haven’t yet run into this practice, keep your eyes open, as it will likely happen in your booth in the next few months.
Hot-Selling Product Trends
In addition to good prices, shoppers this year are also on the lookout for unique and personalized items. The trend towards giving thoughtful, personal gifts continues this year, and SJT Enterprises is on top of this trend. The Ohio-based company has recently announced the addition of 7” x 10” wood coloring plaques to their hugely popular line of home décor signs and plaques. The new plaques wholesale at just $4.50 each and offer a wide variety of illustrations and styles. Each plaque is colored in by the recipient to create a unique work of art for their home. “Adult coloring books – ones with much more intricate designs than kids’ coloring books – have been VERY popular the last few years”, explains SJT president Tim Smith. “Since SJT is the world leader in low cost, USA made wood plaques, it only made sense we came out with coloring plaques,” continues Smith. The plaques can be ordered directly by calling SJT at 440.617.1100, or visiting their web site at www.thousandsofsigns.com.
Similarly, Duke Imports, a leader in importing and wholesaling high quality, low priced home goods, carries a large range of luxury bamboo pillows. Now offering an adjustable hypoallergenic pillow infused with Aloe Vera memory foam, the pillows are a fabulous gift item and can be ordered and delivered quickly for holiday sales. You can see the full range of Duke’s products on their website, www.dukeimports.com.
Also of interest to shoppers this year are gifts that are targeted to people’s personal hobbies. If your market has a farmer’s market or vendors offering home-made treats, consider selling things like recipe books, small stoneware or ceramic bowls, or a range of cooking utensils, cutting boards and small cooking gadgets. For the ‘foodie crowd’ items like this are irresistible – and many times while they might stop to buy a gift for a loved one, they can’t help but buy something extra for themselves. An added bonus is that many of these items are cheerfully bright and colorful and make a great display on your table to attract new and returning customers.
No matter what products you sell at your booth this year, making sure to offer a few Made In The USA items will help your bottom-line. More and more consumers are seeking out products sourced and made locally, so if you carry products unique to your locale, be sure to use a smartly decorated sign, and know the story behind the products. Being able to answer shopper questions and offer a little bit of history is a great way to engage holiday shoppers that stop into your booth.
And lastly, there’s no secret that despite the rush and frantic pace of the holidays, part of the entire season is having fun. Consider getting involved in any kind of holiday promotions or parties your market is planning. Whether it’s a Halloween trick or treat party for the kids, a scary haunted hayride, a Thanksgiving pie-eating contest or a visit from Santa, joining into your swap meet or market’s overall celebrations is a fun way to get terrific publicity for your booth.
Talk to your market’s owner or manager to find out what events are being offered and get your business featured. There are tons of easy and fun ways to be involved and to get your booth advertised along with the market. You’ll sponsor good will from your market owner, and also enjoy the benefits of increased shopper traffic – and sales.
From all of us here at the Merchandiser, we wish you and yours a fantastic holiday season.