There’s gloomy news for retailers this season. Winter weather in much of the country meant retail shopping essentially leveled off after the December holidays. The National Retail Federation reports that January sales were flat  as customers holed up to avoid the Polar Vortex.
So how can your retail business make up for slow winter sales?
Get ready now to market your store for Spring season holidays. Although they’re not as big a deal as back-to-school or Christmas, Spring holidays, including Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, are nonetheless key shopping periods for retailers.
Last year, U.S. consumers spent an estimated $17.2 billion for Easter , $20.7 billion on Mother’s Day , and $13.3 billion on Father’s Day . Below are some upcoming Spring holidays, and ideas for taking advantage of them.
Spring Retail Sale Ideas
St. Patrick’s Day (March 17)
Depending on your location and your target market, St. Patrick’s Day can be a day when your customers celebrate their Irish heritage, start drinking green beer at noon or cook Irish meals like corned beef and cabbage. St. Patrick’s Day also appeals to schoolchildren who may dress in green or exchange little gifts and treats in the classroom.
Hold a St. Patrick’s Day sale or contest (so customers can test the “luck of the Irish”). Put impulse buys like pint glasses or shot glasses, green T-shirts, hair ribbons or socks or Irish recipe books in your prominent displays.
First Day of Spring (March 21)
Celebrate Spring with an outdoor event (weather permitting), since customers will be itching to get outside.
Get local retailers in your area together and organize a sidewalk sale. Sweeten the pot (and attract more foot traffic) by asking local restaurants to sell samples of their menu items for a few dollars. Come up with themed contests for your customers. For instance, a toy store could have children decorate paper flowers and display them in the store, or a women’s apparel store could have a hat contest.
Tax Day (April 15)
While you many not consider this a “holiday,” the National Retail Federation reports two-thirds of Americans are expecting a refund this year , and pent-up demand for products could tempt them to spend some of that money in your store.
At a time when customers have taxes on the brain, a “sales-tax free day” is a great promotion. (Remember, you still have to remit the tax even though the customer doesn’t pay it). Get your store on customers’ minds before they get their refunds with ads, marketing emails and social media messages asking them how they’re planning to spend their refund and tempting them with big-ticket items.
Keep in mind, customers who know they’re getting refunds often file way before Tax Day so they can get their cash faster.
Easter (April 20)
Easter marketing seems to start earlier every year. In my area, Easter baskets went on display the day after Valentine’s Day. Clothing and candy are big spending areas for Easter, as moms outfit the family for church and fill the Easter baskets.
However, in recent years Easter baskets have become more and more like mini-Christmas trees, packed with not just candy but also gifts and toys. Appeal to moms’ desire to treat their kids by marketing everything from toys, games and accessories to books, electronics and gift cards as perfect basket-stuffers.
Mother’s Day (May 11)
In addition to the traditional gifts like flowers, candy, perfume and clothing, moms love experiences that give them time with their families. To capture even more of the dollars Dad is spending on Mom, think about how your business can create an experience around Mother’s Day.
For instance, a children’s bookstore could hold a Mother’s Day tea. A crafts store could feature a crafting session. A cooking store could hold a gourmet cooking class. Also remember that Mother’s Day celebrations include multiple generations, so don’t forget Grandma and even Great-Grandma. Make sure your gifts and your store are senior-friendly.
Finally, don’t forget that Dad buys most of the Mother’s Day gifts, and in most cases, he doesn’t like to shop. Marketing messages that focus on simplicity and ease (getting in and getting out of the store quickly) will resonate with him. Create window displays that group products together in packages he can grab and go. Offer gift-wrapping in-store and be prepared with lots of advice from the sales staff.
Father’s Day (June 15)
Go beyond the traditional Dad gifts with themes like golf, fishing, sports and power tools to target non-traditional dads with hobbies like music, craft-beer brewing or gourmet cooking. Gift cards are also a great option to appeal to dads who want to pick their own gifts.
Also remember, since Mom is buying Dad’s gift, you need to appeal to her desire to find the “perfect” item while still getting a deal. Offer buy-one-get-one-free deals or package products together so mom can feel like she’s saving more by buying more.
Finally, keep an eye on the weather since it’s what has stymied winter retail sales. Check out Weather.com’s  average temperatures for your city, or its monthly forecasts, which may be slightly more useful.
This way, you can have a better idea if your sidewalk sale is going to get rained out – or whether ordering umbrellas or bathing suits is a smarter idea.
Spring Sale  Photo via Shutterstock