Back-to-school is one of the top spending events in retail. According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers spend more on back-to- school shopping than Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day combined. 

And you don’t have to sell back-to-school supplies or clothing to benefit from one of the biggest spending seasons of the year. 

Keep reading to find out how you can take advantage of the back-to-school season and increase your retail sales. 

Smart Retailers Leverage Back-to-School 

school kids

For retail businesses that peak in the summer, the back-to-school season may seem daunting. It means lower sales and a decrease in foot traffic. But this doesn’t have to be the case. 

Back-to-school is a time of change for many people – teachers, parents, and most importantly students. Many see it as a fresh start and a time for new perspectives. 

And smart retailers play on these feelings with creative marketing tactics. 

3 Back-to-School Promotions to Help you Sell More

Even if your store has no connection to back-to-school or college, you can still engage with your shoppers in a memorable way.

Here’s how: cater your promotions to shoppers by using change as a marketing tool. 

Listed below are 3 promotion strategies that can help you sell more.

1) A free gift with every purchase made: This type of promotion offers every shopper who spends a certain amount in-store ($50 or above, $60 or above etc.) a free item.

A good idea is to give away a back-to-school basket with different school supplies. You can also imprint your brand name on each of the items in the basket. It doesn’t necessarily have to be school related either – popular store merchandise or a gift card are also effective gifts.

The benefits of this promotion strategy include: 

  • it attracts shopper attention 

  • increases the likelihood of impulse buys

  • makes it easier to up-sell and cross-sell 

  • improves shopper experience

  • enhances attraction and remembrance of your brand

back-to-school basket

2) Back-to-school discounts: 56% of consumers have stated that they have not started their back to school shoppingAnd 49% say it is because they are waiting for the best sales. So consider offering discounts on your merchandise before students go back to school.

If you do not sell back-to-school merchandise, don’t fret! Back to school discounts aren’t just for retailers who sell school supplies or electronics.

Remember to create a back-to-school tie in! As retail expert Bob Phibbs explains, “When you draw the attention of your customers to their garden, that room, or those drapes, then they will see themselves replacing, learning, or fixing-up, and then they will come into your store to get whatever new things they need.” 

back-to-school sale

3) Run a Social Media Contest: Social media contests are a great tool to increase sales and generate a buzz online. As most shoppers (college students and millennials especially) are conducting product research online, it is also a great method to reach target shoppers. 

This back-to-school season, 49% of K-12 families and 45% of college shoppers are planning to shop online. So get in front of these consumers by running a giveaway or contest with effective prizes. 

Here are some ideas for effective prizes: 

  • A “back-to-school survival kit” 

  • A de-stress prize such as a gift card for a popular restaurant or spa nearby (consider partnering with a local business) 

  • Free tickets to fall festivals, concerts, apple picking or other events

social media

Promotion Examples

Here are some examples of creative back-to-school tie ins: 

A store that sells cleaning supplies could offer discounted packages for college students. It could be marketed it as an all-in-one package for cleaning dorm rooms. 

A health food store or grocery store could give away healthy meal plans and recipes for college students. Or alternatively – recipes for preparing healthy lunches for children. 

Families love including their pets in holidays, birthdays, and other milestones. So a pet store could offer back-to-school merchandise for pets! Pet-smart is a great example of a store that has leveraged back-to-school. In the past, the retailer has taken advantage of the back-to-school season with their school-themed pet gear.