Seasonality & Technique Trends in the Retail Industry
No industry was hit harder by the 2008 economic knuckle sandwich than retailers and merchandisers, but after some rough going until 2010, things have been looking up. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, the world's largest retail trade association, May retail sales (excluding automobile, gas stations and restaurants) decreased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted from April but increased 4.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year, marking 23 consecutive months of retail sales growth.
Of course, in order to keep sales and ROI moving in the right direction, retailers must stay on top of the current marketing trends and study those folks who are succeeding in this competitive cross-channel marketplace. The recent report "Retail Trends Revealed" covers the current direct mail and email trends, along with profiles and analysis of leading retailers.
Here are a couple of significant direct mail trends detailed in the report:
The final quarter of the year usually features an increase in retail mailings, but 2011 had an unprecedented surge. October, November and December had nearly 50 percent more mailings than another other quarter. Meanwhile, the final quarter similarly dominated 2010's final quarter, especially October (24 percent more mailings) and December (51 percent more). Will such an onslaught be the case in Fall 2012?
On the flip side, only February registered fewer mailings in 2011 than 2010. And the months of January, May and July had nearly the same number of retail mailings for each year.
Favorite direct mail techniques — like using personalization, offering a premium (some sort of gift after a purchase, for example) or even sweepstakes — are much more common in other verticals outside of retail. Personalization, for example, is often used in practically half of all direct mail efforts in the mailstream, but only registered at 8.8 percent of retail mail in 2011. However, that does represent an increase of nearly 30 percent from 2010. Premium usage and sweepstakes, meanwhile, both decreased in usage over the past year.