COMMENT: Retailers should give up Boxing Day sales

Retailers need to abandon old fashioned tactics such as seasonal price slashing, writes Brie Read, the chief executive of online retailer Snag Tights. But how can retailers build long term relationships with customers by gaining their trust through fair pricing all year long?

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Boxing Day sales: Why retailers should stop the annual event (Comment)
Aggressive price slashing runs the risk of alienating entire generations, writes Snag Tights CEO Brie Read

The average Brit spends a whopping £567 on presents at Christmas. Yet the day after, gifts are exchanged and consumers are expected to dash out to Boxing Day Sales to snap up last season’s stock at rock bottom prices. Seasonal price slashes are an old tactic – one that consumers have gotten wise to.

Last year it was reported that due to three consecutive years of falling footfall, Boxing Day was seemingly becoming a less important day of trading. So, is it any surprise that the high street is in crisis?

Customers don’t actually want mass discounts on certain days of the year

I often hear that popular phrase: “Who doesn’t love a bargain?” The truth is that if products were sold at fair prices year-round, no one would.

“Aggressive price slashing runs the risk of alienating entire generations”

Everywhere you look, major retailers and supermarkets are competing for footfall with the latest offers and deals. It’s easy to buy into the hype and believe that if customers won’t snap up your product at half the RRP, they won’t buy it at all.

The reality is that customers are not only aware of this tactic, they’re sick of it. Consumer watchdogs have made it clear that seasonal sales tricks are just that: tricks. As a result, many customers believe that retailers ramp up their prices in preparation for a seasonal sale, allowing them to advertise enormous discounts without a dent in the bottom line.

When it comes to price, customers are also increasingly aware that if a deal seems too good to be true, it’s likely because someone else is paying the price – whether that’s retail workers, warehouse staff or wildlife affected by manufacture practices.

With sustainability top of the agenda for many millennial and zoomer shoppers, aggressive price slashing runs the risk of alienating entire generations.

Far from looking for the brand with the lowest price, the modern customer is looking for the brand that most reflects their values.

Purpose trumps price for modern shoppers

“The modern customer is looking for the brand that most reflects their values”

Former high street giants are fighting for footfall as profits continue to drop. Meanwhile, purpose-driven brands such as Lucy and Yak, Stay Wild and Reformation continue to grow in popularity as customers reward mindful brands for their sustainable, charitable or inclusive goals by loyally favouring their products.

Knowing that their hard-earned cash is going to a business whose ideals match their own, consumers are more than happy to pay a fair price year-round for the products they love.

When I set up my size-inclusive tights brand Snag, I made a conscious decision to never take part in discount days or phony marketing tools to harness a customer base. Instead, I sell my products at their lowest possible price all year round as I would rather gain the trust of my customers. We don’t see a dip in sales on discount days such as Boxing Day and Black Friday, and after just over a year in trading, we have turned over £4.3 million to date.

Sales favour sample sizes

Despite the fact that the most common size in the UK is a 16, many high street retailers still focus on stocking smaller sample sizes between 6–10. Those that do offer sizes over a 16 often stock them online only or for click-and-collect.

The result is that many women feel excluded from mainstream fashion. This is true at any time of year but no more so than during sales, when retailers are looking to offload masses of slimmer sizes. The rails may be packed with smaller sizes at low prices but a shopper who wears a different size has little chance of finding something that fits and flatters her.

“It’s clear that the status quo of high street fashion simply isn’t working”

It’s time for high street retailers to accept that it’s not unusual for women to wear a size over a 16 and take a more inclusive approach to size stocking.

It’s time to find a better way

Footfall continues to drop, profits are at rock bottom – it’s clear that the status quo of high street fashion simply isn’t working.

Yet, despite criticisms of retail giants, no one wants to see our high streets empty and unloved.

As an industry, we need to change our perspective from quantity to quality. Rather than aiming for high volumes of sales that leave consumers with a bad taste in their mouths, we should look to build long-term relationships with customers. We can only do this pricing fairly, creating products and brands with meaning, and including everyone – which is why I’m urging retailers to drop their seasonal price slashes.

Brie Read is the founder and CEO of Snag Tights, a size inclusive hosiery retailer

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