Mar 17, 2014
Talking Turkey and Beyond
Abby Heugel, Managine Editor

The fall season is a cornucopia of retail opportunities

What are you thankful for?

If you’re a retailer, it should be the time between Halloween and Christmas in which you can capitalize on additional sales. Many mass-market retailers focus on Halloween and Christmas merchandise during this time of year and don’t fully capitalize on sales opportunities that fall and Thanksgiving products offer.

Even though consumer demand is not as large as it is for Halloween and Christmas merchandise, Thanksgiving can still generate substantial sales dollars for party stores due to less competition and market saturation.

Selling Through

As long as you have them in your stores for Halloween – generally the busiest time of the year – why not promote Thanksgiving during that time?

It’s as easy as selling off discount Halloween goods in unison with your Thanksgiving reset, stuffing discount coupons in customers’ bags during the Halloween season and offering them the opportunity to save a certain percent on all Thanksgiving product through the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

In fact, Dawn Kirschner of Unique suggests that retailers start to merchandise fall products in August, as students going back to school gets many consumers thinking about the fall season.

“The nice thing about the fall selling period for retailers is that it really is an entire season, so retailers can continue to sell fall products through November,” Kirschner said. “Consumers actually start to purchase fall merchandise prior to Halloween and will continue to purchase fall merchandise through Thanksgiving, so before customers can get to your Halloween goodies, highlight the fall merchandise.”

Kirschner suggested setting up an easy, creative table display in the store with fall or Thanksgiving tableware and decorations that will help create awareness and inspire customers to create their own table setting for their Thanksgiving or fall celebration.

Katherine Dikeakos of The Madison Park Group added that harvest and Halloween decor play off each other perfectly. Customers are more likely to stock up if they see products early, so focus on harvest-themed items in colors like browns, oranges and dark reds and images like leaves, pumpkins and trees.

In terms of themes and icons, burton + BURTON executives said that while turkeys for Thanksgiving are still popular, not all of them are going to be as traditional as they have been in the past. They are incorporating tin, wood and animal prints into some of their new lines this fall. In addition, pumpkins and owls with different patterns and textures will remain popular, but woodland creatures such as foxes and hedgehogs are trending fast.

Kirschner added that while turkey and cornucopia designs are still top performers, retailers shouldn’t forget about leaf patterns.

“Both leaves and cornucopia design are strong throughout the fall season, while turkey patterns tend to sell the best closer to Thanksgiving,” Kirschner said. “Adding gold, green, brown, red and orange solid-color tableware to the assortment inspires consumers to mix and match and increases the size of the fall/Thanksgiving purchase.”

More than Turkeys

While many people who entertain for Thanksgiving eat on “real” plates and dishes for the main course, disposable cups are a great solution for hosts, as are disposable silverware, plates and serving dishes when it comes to appetizers, desserts and beverages. Many also rely on place cards, hand towels, centerpieces, toothpicks and so much more.

Kirschner agreed that Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends, not for doing dishes and cleaning up. Consequently, paper plates and napkins are some of the most popular items for Thanksgiving. Not only are they are great for the kids table and desserts but they are great for larger than normal entertaining needs when there is not enough china in the cabinet to meet the consumers entertaining demands.

“Guest towels are another great item to have during this season,” she said. “They are classy enough to use at the holiday dinner table, yet practical for guests in the restroom, or everyday use.”

For the upcoming fall and Thanksgiving seasons, Kirschner predicts Unique’s ensembles and solid color tableware will continue to be top-sellers. However, items like centerpieces, mini honeycomb decorations, cupcake holders, picks, cello bags, cutouts, danglers and window clings are also great for school parties and decorating the home.

“Paper tableware and accessories like taper candles are a must,” said Colin Littler of Design Design. “We set out to offer home decor-inspired solutions that we predict will be big hits this season that includes three new paper tableware collections – Classic Leaves, Bountiful Jacobean and Gilded Leaves – that offer both elegant and graphic solutions.”

burton + Burton added that retailers should focus on a variety of decor, ribbon, mesh, salt and pepper shaker sets and floral centerpieces, as these products are an easy way for customers to add fresh pops of color and warmth throughout their homes during the entire fall season.

“And while Thanksgiving is a great time to focus on home and table decor, don’t forget that customers are also looking for quick and useful host/hostess gifts,” Dikeakos said. “Items like Mudlark’s Soap Gift Sets that contain a bar of natural hand soap on a beautiful glass dish are an example of products that all retailers should have on hand during the fall. These items can also be kept around into the Christmas buying season.”

When it comes to marketing these fall items, it’s all about making the shopping experience quick and easy because busy shoppers have less and less time to find what they’re looking for and make decisions.

“Always show how products coordinate,” Littler said. “Decorating an entire table can seem daunting so customers will appreciate examples of how to do so. It’s helps them and leads to more sales for you.”

And that’s something everyone can be thankful for.

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