Back to school, back to learning or will it simply be back to home?
August12 2020 Susan davidson Retail Consultant at RetailNext Will back-to-school shopping be popular even in these uncertain times? Susan Davidson writes and reveals recent trends in retail performance. MLB and NBA are back in...

Susan davidson
Susan davidson
Retail Consultant at RetailNext

Will back-to-school shopping be popular even in these uncertain times? Susan Davidson writes and reveals recent trends in retail performance.

MLB and NBA are back in action, PGA tournaments have resumed…. Finally, there are sports to watch on TV. I almost felt a little normal, right? Let's be honest, not really. With the news of people having "Corona parties" where cases are now multiplying across the country, why can't everyone follow the directions, stay home, and wear their masks? Now the reality of kitchens becoming classrooms and parents juggling roles of their own work in addition to teachers and short-term cooks is coming to life. Drink your Corona (at home), stop spreading the corona (virus)!

There has been a lot of talk about getting kids back to school. Do we really think these kids will go back to school in person or will it be “Back to Learning” and online? Usually for us who work in the retail industry, back to school means an extremely busy time both in stores and online with a ton of sales pressure over that time. Even despite the uncertainty surrounding the schools reopening in the fall, the NRF has published that the start of the school year is still going to be a record-breaking $ 100 billion event. However, we do predict that fewer people will be shopping in stores as a result of this pandemic, particularly with the end of the unemployment stimulus checks and no news at this time if they are going to be reinstated. I'm sure most retailers are going to miss these adorable grandparents that we often see picking out clothes and gifts for their school-aged grandchildren. These buyers will be at home, protecting their own health.


Traffic trends for open stores have been relatively stable since the end of June, -42% at LY. Net sales are still suffering, -26% at LY, but we are constantly seeing improvement, and conversion (CVR), customer performance (SY), average transaction value (ATV) and units per transaction (UPT) continue. to be positive for LY. The Average Ticket (AUR) continues to be down from last year as retailers are still extremely promotional as they browse inventory. As a consumer, I always look forward to the January and July sales. But in the COVID era, there are endless promotions as retailers try to make up for sales they lost when they shut down, or browse inventory they bought without knowing we would be wearing them. same 5 things in the last 6 months. . With conversion rates still being positive compared to last year, we have seen a gradual increase over the past 3 weeks with the CVR being + 5-6% compared to LY. Maybe the brands are finally able to bring some novelty and make sure they're in the right stock positions, and have the right assortment spanning different price points to support this slight increase in CVR. During this pandemic, in-store online shopping (BOPIS), curbside pickup and sharing inventory between stores and online continue to be important to retailers and grow as a percentage of their turnover. total business.

With more than 5 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States, many states have suspended or canceled plans to reopen and most states are starting to share their school plans for fall 2020, revealing that many are adopting the early learning online or mixed school programs that will continue to affect traffic trends. Although California has been at the forefront of reversing store reopens and enforcing their statewide dismantling and most, if not all, counties are implementing the e-learning for fall, California traffic has remained stable over the past month, but still -51% at LY. We're still optimistic, however, that back-to-school shopping can help improve traffic trends across the country as spending is expected to hit record highs. Traffic to Midwest, Northeast, and South stores was down in the 1930s at LY, but the West had the worst -41% trend at LY. In the tri-state area, governments are requiring people traveling from 34 states across the country to be quarantined for 14 days upon returning home. In addition to the quarantine in the northeast, Tropical Storm Isaias left many states without electricity as some can expect these negative traffic trends. However, people were shopping in the northeast despite the tropical storm as these cComing from Delaware (DE) there is no longer a need to quarantine for 14 days and traffic in Delaware for the week of August 1 improved by more than 10 percentage points from the week July 4.


Traffic trends in all categories are still down from last year, but jewelry and home remain the brightest spots. Jewelry and Home was -30-40% as traffic to clothing and shoe stores continued to struggle with the worst trends. We predict with a drop in traffic in clothing and footwear, there may be an increase in beauty, wellness, and home categories as people continue to work from home and more countries are announcing that students will learn online instead of in-person school. However, our industry partners tell us that the shoes that are now selling in anticipation of children's back-to-school are slip-on shoes and sneakers that will be perfect for home school environments and perhaps the occasional outdoor family adventure. Kids always seem to need sneakers after a summer of being outdoors, it's just a matter of when they'll be purchased. They also mentioned that the clothes were mostly waist-high, brightly colored and printed tops, which are appropriate clothes for constant Zoom meetings. Leisure and loungewear also continues to sell to provide the greatest comfort to those who teaching, learning and working from home.

We're also seeing a shift towards electronics and home furnishings, as buyers want to be ready when the verdict is reached if the kids return to school in person. Back-to-school purchases can have a phased approach to spending that people mPrepare for online learning now and may transition to in-person school in the distant future. I hope (and pray) that our kids (especially mine!) Go back to school in person, as not only is this important to them for social interactions, but someone else's kids are passing by. too much screen time? Ask a friend. The recent storm in the northeast which resulted in a loss of power was actually a welcome respite from the TVs and iPads running too long and when the power went out, it forced my kids to play with their toys and toys. each other! And it turns out they're pretty imaginative and adorable with no electronic distractions. However, as with most parents, by the 5e day of powerlessness, I was hoping to "see the light" very soon. And finally, we did.

The more I read, the more optimistic I become about back to school, more so during the shopping event versus kids actually going back to school in person. But a person can dream, can't they? It looks like back-to-school shopping will be popular even in these uncertain times, although it may be in a phased approach. Let's all be socially removed from "holding hands" on this one and continue to practice safe socialization measures and stay home, and I hope these kids can go back to school safely ...

For July 2020 retail performance, download our recent Performance pulse ratio.

Susan Davidson is a Retail Consultant at RetailNext. With over 16 years of retail experience, Susan has worked in the digital and retail areas of the business. Susan has worked for retailers such as Bloomingdale's, J.Crew, and Ralph Lauren, focusing on merchandising, purchasing, and planning. She lives outside of New York City with her husband and 3 young children.

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Are you a retailer ( or retail sales associate ) who’s struggling with how to approach shoppers ? Worried that you lack the magic touch, or that you’ll come off as an annoying salesperson ? Would you rather be awkwardly staring at your store’s point of sale software screen than actually talking to the customer in front of you ?

You should keep reading because, after years of being one of the strongest sellers at my store, I can assure you : anyone can sell. That’s not to say it’s not going to take a lot of practice. But over the years, I’ve found that a customer will tell you verbally and/or physically how to sell to them. If you’re listening properly and looking for the right cues, you can always tell if a customer is interested in what you have to say, what approach to take with them, and what exactly they’re looking for.

Check out the tips below, put them into action, and you should find yourself successfully closing sales : Practice Active ListeningActive listening isn’t just about standing in front a customer silently. There are a few important things you should be doing to engage in this practice :

The most important part of active listening is to not form a response while the customer is speaking. This is really to do, and is going to take a lot of practice. It’s very natural to latch on to one part of a comment and form a response to it, and then shut out the rest of the comment. to become a good listener, a sales person must resist doing this. Active listening should engage your whole body. Things like nodding and having an open stance show the customer that you are listening to what they have to say. Once it’s time for you to speak, give the customer a quick summary of what they said. This has a few purposes. First, it allows you to come up with a response post-comment without things being awkwardly silent. Second, showing the customer that you heard everything they had to say will often open them up to providing you with more information than they initially supplied.

Practicing réactive listening means that you are fully engaged with learning what the customer wants. This engagement makes a huge difference. Not only will you understand what the customer wants in a deeper way, but you also gain their trust easier.

Next : Pay Attention to Body LanguageAlong with active listening, you should be practicing ‘active looking. ’ ( Yes, I just made that term up. ) People will betray a lot of what they’re thinking in the things that they do with their body. A lot of body language experts will tell you some odd things to look for, like watching if someone scratches their nose, but I don’t think that level of depth is necessary. In fact, I think that if you’re watching for a customer to scratch their nose, you’re probably not practicing réactive listening.

However, there is still plenty of body language you should be paying attention to while you’re actively listening. Let me give you a short list of tells you can easily pick up on during a conversation with a customer. 1. Eye ContactWhere a person’s eyes are looking is one of the easiest ways to tell what they’re focusing on. If the customer is looking at you, or the products you’re working with, that’s a good sign. It means they’re engaged with you and are interested in what you have to say and sell.

If they’re looking around, at someone else, out the door… anywhere that’s not where you are – that’s not a great sign. Usually if this is the case you should say something like, “Let me know if you need anything else, ” and let them do their own thing. No eye contact doesn’t mean you won’t be able to close the sale – but it could spell trouble if you don’t pay attention.

Hands/ArmsAnother important thing to pay attention to is what people do with their hands and arms. Typically, if someone’s arms are crossed, they are uncomfortable and probably not interested in what you have to say. You should tread gently : let this customer know you are there to help. If you’re talking with a customer who is clearly shy and uncomfortable with talking to you, I recommend acting in a more reserved manner and avoiding things like answering questions the customer has yet to ask. In addition, because this posture reflects a closed off mind, I mostly suggest avoiding suggestive selling. Suggestive selling does not work well on someone who is not interested.

Open arms and palms facing towards you, however, are an super sign. If your customer has taken this sort of position in your conversation, you’re doing well. In fact, I would definitely recommend going for it with suggestive selling. ( Of course, make sure you’re showing them items that are actually related to what they want, not just some pre-placed item that your directeur wants to get rid of. )

Facial Expression—Particularly the Curve of Their MouthLastly, you should be paying attention to the locutions you customer is making. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to pay close attention to your customer’s facial locutions. Even if a customer is pulling a straight face at you, most people’s mouths are fairly expressive in small ways. Often, the corners of the mouth will be curving slightly up or slightly down. Down is not good for you – it indicates frustration or annoyance. Curving up, though, is an extra sign. Additionally, you should pay attention to how tightly the lips are held. If they’re pressed tightly together, it can mean the same thing as crossed arms.

That’s the three major areas of body language you should be paying attention to while actively listening to your customer. Keep in mind that while the customer’s body can give you an indication about how they feel towards you and your product, it’s the listening that is going to yield you the important information about what they want. Now that we’ve established good customer reading techniques, let’s talk about what to do with the information you pick up :

Respond With Similar Body LanguageOne of the easiest ways to set someone at ease is to “mirror” their body language. You don’t want to go overboard on this – that can seem creepy or just mean. But little things are really important. Start with pace and timing. Is the customer in a hurry ? Or do they want to take things slow and steady ? Speak and act at the same pace as the customer. If she’s in a hurry, speaking quickly and speed walking across the store, then you should speak quickly and speed walk across the store as well. If she’s speaking slowly and moves slowly, your speed talking and walking will only come across as aggressive to her.

In addition, you can do subtle things like adopt a similar forme, or use similar hand gestures. With the hand gestures, be careful. You don’t want to come across as mocking your customer. Don’t make juste replicas of hand gestures, keep it general. Determine if someone is ready to buy ( or not ) based on non-verbal cuesHere are a few more tips to help you differentiate shoppers who are ready to buy versus those who aren’t interested.

According to SCORE contributor Lee Perlitz, signals that shoppers are interested in a product include : Spending time looking at or discussing one product type – When a customer spends time focusing on just one product, there’s a good chance they’ve already set their sights on that one and are interested in purchasing it. Looking around for somebody to help them – Catch the shopper’s gaze when you see them looking around. According to Perlitz, you can approach them “if they sustain the glance or raise their eyebrows. ”Body language – A shift in body language signals “a change in esprit state that may well indicate readiness to buy. ” For example, if the shopper suddenly styles relaxed after you’ve answered their questions, that could be an indication that they’re ready to buy.

Be sure to approach customers once you see them exhibiting these signals. Failing to spot these signs or not acting in time could result in you missing out on the sale. On the flip side, here are the non-verbal signals indicating that someone isn’t ready to buy. Avoiding eye contact – If a customer doesn’t hold your gaze when you look at them, it likely means they’re not ready to make a purchase yet. Making ‘not now’ excuses – Statements like “just looking” or “not now” are clear signals that they aren’t ready to buy. Perlitz recommends that retailers “make an encouraging remark to keep them looking and back off. ”Looking at many different products – Not being focused on just one product is another indication that shoppers should be given space.

When you see or hear people exhibiting the signals above, then it’s best to hold off on the hard sell. Figure out the type of customer that you’re dealing with and respond accordinglyAs you know, there are several genres of customers who walk through your doors, and you need to tailor your approach accordingly. tera help you do that, we’ve put together a quick slideshow summarizing the most common types of customers in retail. Check it out below :

More tips ? Those are our tips and tricks to help anyone become a good sales person. It’s important to remember that truly good sales people work on creating trusting relationships with their clients before they sell them anything. If you are capable of creating a trusting relationship, you are capable of selling. These tips are intended to help you create that relationship.

What tricks to reading customers do you employ ? Let us know in the comments below ! Author Bio : Cara Wood is a marketing administrative assistant at Capterra, a company that puts software buyers in touch with software vendors ! When she’s not at work at Capterra, she can be found horse-back riding, reading and just generally having a good time at life.


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