Determining exactly when to have a sale, how long it should last, and how much to discount are recurring challenges for every retailer. One way to gain the upper hand is to have easy access to data-backed insights on your competitors’ promotional tactics at your fingertips. Such insights can reveal how your promotional calendar compares to others’, how discounting affects traffic, and how your promotions benchmark against competitors’.
Of course, paying close attention to competitors’ promotional activity is especially important at key times throughout the year – especially during holidays. The Easter holiday marks the end of a distinctive promotional period in the first half of the year, as the holiday’s gift-giving nature and shifting date make for an intriguing promotional analysis.
With the Easter holiday now behind us, we performed YOY multi-year analyses (2014-2016) on retailers’ promotions during the two weeks preceding Easter. Highlights from the analyses include:
– Trend #1: More retailers had storewide sales this year than they did in 2015
– Trend #2: On average, this Easter’s discounts were slightly lower than last Easter’s
– Trend #3: Discounting trends closely follow shifting holiday calendars
To analyze promotions during the two-week period that that precedes Easter from 2014-2016, data was arranged by date and promotion type.
Date: Data was divided into three separate categories that describe the time period in which promotions occurred. Each category is referenced as follows.
– 1WBE: the week before Easter, or NRF week 9 in 2016; NRF week 10 in 2015; and NRF week 12 in 2014
– 2WBE: the week that falls two weeks before Easter, or NRF week 8 in 2016; NRF week 9 in 2015; and NRF week 11 in 2014
– Before Easter: a combination of 1WBE and 2WBE – this category refers to average promotional data throughout the entire two-week period before Easter
Promotion Type: Promotions fall into two categories: All Sales and Storewide Sales.
– All Sales: all sales and discounts offered by a retailer in a given time period (includes: all item types, all channels, types of promotions, etc.)
– Storewide Sales: offers where all items (or nearly all items) in the store, or on the web, are on sale – this type of sale can be most meaningful to a retailer’s bottom line
Trend #1: More retailers had storewide sales this year than they did in 2015
Over the past few years, a greater number of retailers have offered storewide sales in the week before Easter (1WBE). However, concerns about the impact to the bottom line might be affecting the level of discounts offered, as the percent levels decreased throughout the same period. This could also indicate that retailers don’t feel as much pressure to discount deeply.
While discounts decreased from 2014-2016, the number of retailers in our sample who had storewide sales in 1WBE increased by 21%.
Between 2014 and 2016, the average storewide discount level in 1WBE dropped 3.4%.
Trend #2: On average, this Easter’s discounts were lower than last Easter’s
When comparing data from Easter 2014, 2015, and 2016, Easter 2015 was the most promotional, as it saw the highest percent off in both the All Sales and Storewide Sales categories. The All Sales discount was higher than the Storewide Sales discount – these discounts came in at 38.4% and 30.5%, respectively.
Trend #3: Week before Easter sees greatest depth of discounts, despite calendar shifts
Despite significant calendar shifts that affect the date of Easter each year, 1WBE (as opposed to 2WBE) has consistently seen a higher discount percent in both categories of promotions, across all three years.
Easter 2016 is one of the earliest Easters in recent memory – in fact, it has shifted three NRF weeks forward since 2014. Despite this calendar shift, 1WBE still sees the biggest increase in promotional activity.
Narrowing our scope by focusing on specific types of retailers yields some intriguing nuance in the data. We took a detailed look at data from five types of retailers: department stores, women’s apparel, family apparel, shoes, and home furnishings.
Insight 1: Average discounts decreased in Women’s & Family Apparel in 2016
When looking at YOY data for All Sales in 2016, each of the five categories experienced a shift.
Retailers in the women’s apparel and family apparel categories became less promotional on average this year. However, the All Sales average discount percentage increased in home furnishings but was mixed across the rest of the categories. With all the hype around deeper and deeper discounting, our data indicates a slight shift in the opposite direction this year.
Insight 2: The shoes category had the highest All Sales discount level this year
For the first time, our shoes category boasted the highest average discount across all sales in 2WBE, taking the top spot from women’s apparel, which has held the crown for the past two years. The lowest average discount for 2016 in the All Sales category goes to, for the second year in a row, the department stores category in 2WBE.
Easter is one of the earliest promotion-heavy holidays of the year, and the types and depth of promotions could be indicative of retailers’ behavior throughout the remainder of the year.
Overall, we know that Easter 2016 saw an increase in the number of Storewide Sales, a decrease in discount level YOY, and a more promotional week occurring during the week directly before Easter (1WBE), when compared to two weeks before Easter (2WBE).