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The Retail Calendar Revolution

Despite unpredictable market conditions, retail sales have remained remarkably stable. Interestingly, the National Retail Federation anticipates retail sales will grow between 4% and 6% in 2023.

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Despite unpredictable market conditions, retail sales have remained remarkably stable. Interestingly, the National Retail Federation anticipates retail sales will grow between 4% and 6% in 2023. Consumers continue to spend on non-essential items with a willingness to try new brands, while many have returned to in-store shopping. All the while, shoppers have adjusted their spending habits amidst an inflation-riddled year. They are prioritizing deals, discounts, and rewards, so they can continue to shop while minimizing the impact it has on their wallets. Convenience and value are top of mind for today’s shopper, and brand loyalty has waned as they scour websites for deals. Consumers have more options and channels than ever before and use this to their advantage to shop around carefully.   

So, what does the evolution of shopping behavior mean for the traditional retail marketing calendar? The shift to digital transformed how people shop. Consumers are now in the driver’s seat – researching to find the best deals, places, and times to buy. The retail industry has adapted and evolved to deliver more “big sale” moments to incentivize shoppers. Money-conscious consumers are capitalizing on these opportunities to save on their favorite brands and products throughout the year, and retailers are seeing the impact of retail moments on long-term loyalty,  

Traditional holiday sales events are no longer enough for savvy shoppers  

Historically, holiday sales events have been driven by approaching calendar holidays like President’s Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. For decades, retailers have used these calendar events to capitalize on peak shopping activity, engaging shoppers both online and in-store to increase sales.  

Traditional calendar holidays, however, are not as appealing to modern shoppers looking for novelty and new ways to save. Changing consumer behavior and the impact of shopping holidays like Amazon Prime Day are encouraging marketers to rethink the retail holiday calendar. It’s important to note annual holiday events aren’t going away and will remain an important part of the retail calendar. But the rules of retail are constantly in flux and as such, the holiday marketing calendar must also evolve to meet consumer expectations and demands. Brands need to look at holidays, promotions, and rewards initiatives through an integrated and holistic calendar. 

The retail calendar revolution 

The retail calendar was first disrupted eight years ago with the creation of Amazon Prime Day. The sales event created a halo effect, expanding the aperture for deal hunting and lifting the sales of non-Amazon websites in the month of July.  

Over the years, consumers have evolved to look to a different set of season-defining shopping events like Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale, Macy’s Semi-Annual Sale, Sephora’s VIB, and Rakuten’s Big Give Week. These brand-owned events have revolutionized the retail calendar, appealing to shoppers looking for multiple opportunities to save throughout the year. From a retailer perspective, these shopping days are chance to attract new customers, create brand loyalty, and increase sales. At the same time, they are cost-saving opportunities that make shoppers feel smart about their purchases —whether it’s deep discounts, elevated cash back rates, BOGO offers, or more.  

Rakuten President and retail expert Kristen Gall says, “Marketers need to start thinking about retail sales events the same way they used to think about Memorial Day sales or Presidents Day sales. These retail moments provide marketers an opportunity to engage with shoppers at times throughout the year when they’re most active and are intent on spending. By investing strategically in retail sales events throughout the calendar year, brands can easily create and maintain consumer loyalty.”   

Savvy shoppers are waiting for retail sales events before making a purchase, knowing they can find great deals on their favorite brands and wish list items. This is a part of the reason why Rakuten continues to see growth on its platform. Week over week comparisons from Big Give Week 2022 show a 133% increase in visits, 61% increase in Rakuten member sign ups, 188% increase in first-time buyers, and 31% increase in shopping trips. Participating in brand-owned events like Big Give Week gives retailers a unique opportunity to reach a wide audience of highly engaged shoppers. Marketers should strategically plan their investments in these retail events throughout the year to stay top of mind and engage shoppers when they’re most intent on spending.  

The long-short: traditional calendar holiday events are not enough on their own. To keep pace with today’s smart shoppers, retailers must embrace the evolution of the retail marketing calendar and invest in shopping days and events where they know their audience will be engaged. As the marketplace becomes increasingly saturated and competitive, marketers can take advantage of exciting customer-centric moments throughout the year to reach customers and prevent them from taking their business elsewhere. 

Get ready for Rakuten’s Big Give Week 2023!  

 Shoppers have come to expect some kind of recurring compensation for their business (i.e. loyalty points, cash back, and more). Leveraging a combination of holiday promotions, loyalty programs, rewards and incentives, retailers can foster long-term loyalty and encourage customers to buy from them again and again.  

In Rakuten’s opinion, one of the best ways to reward shoppers is with cash back incentives. Rakuten’s biggest Cash Back event of the season is taking place May 8-15th! Big Give Week rewards Rakuten members with elevated discounts and incentives on hundreds of partner brands and products. The highly anticipated eight-day shopping event is a prime opportunity for merchants to gain market share, grow sales, and capitalize on increased traffic onsite. Don’t miss the opportunity to participate in this unique shopping event, supported by massive marketing investment from Rakuten. 

Reach out to your Rakuten rep today to participating in Big Give Week 2023!  

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