Should You Have an Easter Sale?

3 Key Charts: how consumers react to holiday sales, the construction skills gap and loyalty program results.

Written by PROFIT Staff

Welcome to 3 Key Charts, a weekly department in which we explain the graphs, maps, tables and diagrams that you must understand to guard and grow your business. The diagrams and graphics displayed below could help you discover a new opportunity, alert you to an impending risk, or teach you how to be a better manager.

In this instalment, we look at which holidays consumers choose to buy on, the aging skilled trades workforce, and the best way to use loyalty programs.

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Not an excuse to shop

Where it’s from:RetailMeNot Shoppers Trend Reports: 2014 Holiday Shopping Retrospective and 2015 Outlook” by RetailMeNot.

What it shows: Whether consumers shopped during sales on certain national holidays or not in 2014, and whether they plan to shop on those holidays in 2015. Black Friday was the most popular sales occasion, with 36% of respondents saying they had shopped on that day in 2014 and 45% intending to do so this year. Easter and Valentine’s Day brought up the rear with 16% of those surveyed intending to make purchases in 2015. The results combine two surveys with a combined 2,102 U.S. residents aged 18 and over. The version of the infographic presented here eliminates U.S.-specific holidays including Memorial Day, July 4th, President’s Day, Columbus Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Why it matters: While the survey reflects the U.S. consumer, it holds important lessons for Canadian retailers. The Thanksgiving period (including the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales) has effectively been colonized by retailers, with bargain basement prices and long lines at shop doors. Days associated with gift-giving, such as those celebrating parents, are also popular with consumers. But celebrations where the day itself—as opposed to the weeks leading up to it—is reserved for spending time with loved ones are less promising ground for retailers; despite the popular Hollywood image of men raiding flower stores at the last minute, most shoppers appear to do their gift-buying before Valentine’s Day. Easter is similar, with most chocolate eggs and bunnies safely stashed away long before the day itself arrives. Although the consumer outlook is more promising for 2015 than it was last year, retailers would be well-advised to avoid holding same-day sales—there’s no sales Easter egg to be found here.

MORE SPECIAL SALES: 5 Ways to Sell More This Holiday Season »

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A Skilled Trade Gap

Where it’s from: “Modernizing Ontario’s Skilled Trades Apprenticeship and Training System” by Dawson Strategic.

What it shows: The average age of workers in the skilled trades in Ontario. Carpenters have the highest average age, at 61 years, while plumbers are the youngest on average at 49.

Why it matters: Construction is among the sectors worst affected by the skills gap, but the importance of the oilsands to the federal economy means that natural resource worker shortages receive far more attention. The graph suggests that aging baby boomers make up an alarming percentage of the trades workforce in Ontario, a finding that is likely to be similar across Canada. With many of these construction workers set to retire in the coming years and millennials showing little interest in a career in the trades, contractors are likely to face significant labour shortages in the near future. If you’re in the business of building, your hiring is about to get a lot harder. But the aging trades workforce also presents an opportunity: with many firms set to lose a large chunk of their staff in a relatively short period of time, the market share of leading contractors could decline. If you can find skilled tradespeople to do the work, it may actually be a good time to start a construction company.

MORE SKILLED TRADES: Canada’s Fastest Growing Construction Companies »

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What loyalty is made of

Where it’s from: “Talking Loyalty” by Yahoo! Advertising.

What it shows: The percentage of consumers who spend more in stores or on brand if they have an associated loyalty card. Retail and coalition cards are most likely to increase spending (40% and 32% respectively), while travel and entertainment cards (8% and 6% respectively) have the least impact.

Why it matters: Issuing a loyalty card for your brand puts you closer to your customers’ cash—literally. More than half of those surveyed said they make an effort to visit retailers where they have a loyalty or rewards card (56%), and one-third said they tend to buy more of what’s on offer once they get there in order to rack up points. But with the study also finding that Canadians have an average of four loyalty cards, just offering these plastic slivers isn’t enough. You need to optimize your rewards program to your target audience, and temper your expectations. If you’re in the travel, gas or entertainment businesses, consider alternative ways to get your customers coming back—special offers and deals are still among the most reliable motivators for consumers. If you still think a traditional loyalty program will drive business, ditch the card itself. Offering your rewards scheme via mobile ingratiates you with millennials (they’re twice as likely to prefer loyalty information via mobile) and means your brand will be in the only accessory that customers are more likely to carry than a wallet: their smartphones.

MORE LOYALTY PROGRAMS: The Huge Opportunity of Mobile Payments »

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What conclusions do you draw from these charts? Let us know using the comments section below.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com