Candy Sales Top Billions for Easter

shutterstock_181902392 copyShoppers Join the Easter Fanfare

Quick, name the second biggest day for candy sales in America following Halloween! It’s not Mother’s day. It’s not Christmas. It’s not even Valentines Day. If you guessed Easter, pat your self on the back.

How big is Easter? Consumers spent an estimated $17.2 billion for Easter last year. Candy sales are expected to top $2.1 billion in 2014. The average American will spend approximately $145 on Easter candy, décor and apparel. According to stats from the National Confectioner’s Association, that’s 16 billion jelly beans, 700 million marshmallow PEEPS, and 90 million chocolate bunnies made just for the holiday. Those figures are expected to increase, as American’s sweet tooth continues to grow each year. Retailers have taken note. To meet the demand, in the past few years some supermarkets have doubled the shelf space allotted to Easter candy.

Shoppers also Bloom in Sunny Weather

Easter arrives later this year. Forbes predicts good news for retailers with strong Easter sales, and beautiful weather. This gets consumers out shopping and taking advantage of the sales, without fear of disruption from storms. According to data analytics firm Euclid, consumer spending in stores rebounded in March from a brutally cold winter amid warmer conditions on the West Coast and a surge in disposable income due to tax refunds. Nonetheless that’s a 1% drop compared to 2013 spending for the month. Thompson Reuters reported retail sales rose 2.4% in March down from the 2.7% from the previous year.

However, the International Council of Shopping Centers said it expects a 3.5% to 4% sales increase in April. “Bring on the spring and you’ll see a much improved consumer spending pace,” said Michael Niemira, chief economist of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Easter’s late arrival this  year gives retailers more time to ramp up sales. Some didn’t waste a minute, judging from Easter promotions rolled out in the UK a scant five days after the Christmas holiday. Major retail chains in Britain, including Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Asda filled their shelves with crème eggs and chocolate bunnies five months before the holiday.

Spring Sales Keep the Consumer Hopping

Ok, so it’s not all candy and chocolate eggs during the Easter holiday. There are also Spring Clearance Sales at major retailers like Macy’s, Walmart, Sears and Target.  And let’s not forget spring flowers. While local florists may be tempted to raise prices on their Easter bouquets, savvy shoppers can find better deals from online florists.

According to a survey from Shop.org, Easter shoppers will go online planning to spend  $225.64 on items related to the holiday this year, 64% more than the average spend expected for all Easter shoppers and an increase of 25% of online Easter spending over a year ago.

Brands and retailers seeking to cash in on Easter spending need to get their retail execution flawless. To ensure that, Gigwalk increases visibility at the store level, as well as verifies whether in store promotions are executed correctly so brands and retailers can optimize Easter trade spend. This Easter, Gigwalk is the perfect brand and retail partner to keep sales rising!

Self-Service, an Assorted Bag at Checkout

2014.04.10 - Self Checkout.jpg

Technology supports do-it-yourself checkout at retail, but are we? Self-service checkout promises shorter lines for consumers. We’re seeing examples of DIY self check-in kiosks in airports, automated checkouts in hotels, and self-scanning machines in supermarkets. With one attendant overseeing up to 6 checkout aisles at a time, retailers have the pivotal opportunity to reduce head count and cut costs substantially. In theory, everyone saves money and customers think they’re in charge.

It’s a trend on the rise. In 2012, London-based research firm RBR announced total shipments of self-checkout terminals reached 27,000.  In 4 years, that number of self-checkout terminals is predicted to reach 60,000 according to a 2013 self checkout study from Global EPOS.

Scanners are only part of the story however. New technologies launched include store-supplied hand-held scanners. Walmart which has more than 1,500 self-scanner checkouts, is experimenting with Scan & Go, a pilot program that lets shoppers use their iPhone to download a Walmart app, scan items and then pay at self-checkout counters. Based on initial results from 70 stores, Walmart will deploy the technology to more than 200 stores.

Ringing up change, and consumer frustration

Consumers’ experience with the new technology hasn’t all been positive however. Promised benefits of faster checkouts often fail to materialize. And even worse, according to a Tensator study, one of three shoppers left without the goods they came to purchase, owing to a technical glitch with the self-checkout system. The same study revealed that self-checkout actually isn’t entirely automated either. A walloping 84 percent of the surveyed shoppers reported requiring assistance from staffers when using a self-service checkout, that is, if they can even find it! Half of the 400 shoppers surveyed by Tensator complained they were unsure where the self-service line started.

Of course, without staff to assist, there’s no staff available to prevent theft either. In grocery stores, figures as high as 35 percent of profits are lost due to merchandise un-scanned at checkouts, according to the National Retail Federation. “Scan avoidance is the dirty little secret in retail theft,” said Sherry Alpert, a spokeswoman for StopLift Checkout Vision Systems, who was quoted in a recent story in the UK’s Telegram & Gazette.

First impressions count, but so do the last ones

Clearly, the self-service experience can be improved. Checkout is literally the last chance for a retailer to make a positive impression in the mind of the consumer. This is where Gigwalk provides a key advantage. Gigwalkers can monitor self-service scanners to discover where self-checkout is working, where consumers are frustrated, and where poorly functioning do-it-yourself checkout might be impeding sales. Delivered via a cashier or a self-service kiosk, Gigwalk allows retailers get the exit experience right!