Sales like Labor Day sales have become a cornerstone of the American shopping experience, with many deal hunters refusing to pull out the plastic without a coupon, mobile code, or other enticement to make the items they plan to purchase look a little more favorably priced.
As retailers re-evaluate institutions like Memorial Day and Labor Day sales, however, they are finding that the consumer is not willing to spend so readily in the absence of tricky pricing, even if the concept of “sale” is mostly psychological.
Along with the rise of internet shopping and the competitive pricing available therein, more Americans feel that unless a big discount appears to be available (as was the case when many shoppers waited for Labor Day sales and the like to do a big shop), they’re just not as piqued by “everyday low prices.”
Retailer JC Penney has been experiencing a high-profile struggle to break shoppers’ addictions to sale pricing and return to a more even-keeled pricing experience. And in recent months, the chain has struggled to boost flagging sales as a sale-hungry populace turns elsewhere for coupons and deals on holidays like Labor Day.
Hardware store Lowe’s is fighting a similar battle, as they recently began dropping prices as a strategy to compete with their main adversary, Home Depot. Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock recently admitted that the plan has been harder than Lowe’s expected:
“We knew it was going to be difficult … but we may have been overly optimistic.”
However, Jay Stein, interim CEO of Stein Mart, says the practice of removing sales and cutting pricing is leading to modest but steady gains as well as reversing sales declines. Stein says:
“Our strategy is working very well for us … We’re getting back to our old self, a successful specialty-store environment at discount prices.”
Psychologically, do you prefer a Labor Day Sale or Columbus Day Sale to across-the-board price drops?