Seasonal sales are nowadays most closely associated with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Day. But it wasn’t always so.
Indeed, the original seasonal sales were in January, and they were known as ‘White Sales’. Not because of the seasonal snow that went with them, though. The story is a little more interesting.
Why are Seasonal Sales Important?
The spikes in revenue that many retailers see during their seasonal sales are significant. These are an important part of their business. It’s also a chance to:
- clear old stock to free warehouse space and working capital
- generate a marketing buzz and raise profile
- shift soon to be retired product lines, before new models make them unsellable
- loss leaders to draw in new customers
What are Seasonal Sales?
Seasonal sales are price reductions that a retailer offers for a short, fixed term. Originally, it was during what would otherwise have been a slack period. Now they have become so much a part of the calendar, that this doesn’t apply.
In seasonal industries, like apparel and sporting goods, they also allow clearance of old stock, to make way for the new season’s product lines.
The Origin of Seasonal Sales
According to Wikipedia, in 1878, John Wanamaker, founder of the John Wanamaker & Co. department store, wanted to increase sales of bed linen, in January, when sales were normally slow. He decided January would be the time for a ‘White sale’. At the time, bed linen was only available in white.
Today, of course, you can buy bed linen in any colour you like, and the term ‘white sale’ where it remains, is historic. But, according to Wikipedia, it’s a fallacy to believe the term refers to ‘white goods’, like cookers, fridges, and washing machines.
And now, of course, we get more seasonal sales:
As well as January sales, retailers use just about any seasonal event as a hook for a seasonal sale:
- Easter Sales
- Summer Sales
- Autumn Sales
- Black Friday (US Thanksgiving)
- Cyber Monday and, increasingly, Cyber week (straight after Black Friday)
- Boxing Day
If you are reading this at the start of January…
We wish you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.
Maybe it’s time to get out to the January sales.