Do you believe in luck? Do strange occurrences happen when there is a full moon? Whether or not you personally believe in superstitions, many people do. So many, in fact, that on Friday the 13th retail sales can suffer. This April, take the opportunity to turn this well-known superstition into a fun sales event for your store.
Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the fear of Fridays that fall on the 13th of the month. For some people, it is a day to be cautious because they feel like bad things are more likely to happen. This superstition has become so prevalent it has resulted in an estimated loss of up to $900 million in retail sales, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute of North Carolina.
A behavioral scientist with the University of Chicago School of Business Jane Risen found that the fear of Friday the 13th can affect believers and nonbelievers alike.
“Even if I don't actively believe, just the fact that Friday the 13th exists as a known cultural element means that I entertain it as a possibility,” Risen said.
How can you turn around such a bleak day? Give reluctant student shoppers a great reason to stop by your store. Host a day of flash sales on Friday the 13th to help students turn their luck around.
Make 13 your lucky number
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The sale: This April, embrace the number 13 and use it to drum up customer excitement. Host 13 flash sales with select items priced at $13. The duration of a flash sale is usually short, but it can last anywhere from an hour to the entire day. They can pop up any time, any place, sometimes without warning. With one flash sale I was fortunate enough to catch, the sales associate said they didn’t even know it was going to happen. When she arrived to work that morning, there was an email from the corporate store telling them they were having a flash sale. Because of things like this, the temporary and seemingly sudden nature of these sales makes those who stumble on the event feel lucky. They’re even more inspired to take advantage of the outstanding deals.
The set up: This is your sale. Set it up however makes the most sense to you. You can place one item on sale at a time for a set length of time and host several flash sales throughout the day. Or, you could place all selected items on sale all day for one large flash sale. There are advantages and disadvantages to each set-up. If you do one item, or small groups, the sales can build word-of-mouth and attract more student interest in catching them while they happen. However, some students might miss the sale item they wanted the most because of a conflict. If all the items are on sale at the same time, students will have the opportunity to get what they want, but you will lose some of the FOMO (fear of missing out) generated excitement.
Remind students to follow you on social media so they will know when the next flash sale happens.
The length: Flash sales can last any length of time you want. I have encountered sales that lasted for less than an hour and some that lasted the entire day. The appeal of the sale is often the surprise and the feeling that you were in the right place at the right time. Choose the amount of time you would like each sale to run based on what will work best for your store. The temporary nature of these sales will promote and keep student interest as they eagerly anticipate the next one.
The merchandise: Select a variety of traditionally popular merchandise or items that you would like to clear out of your inventory. To keep in the theme of the event, make each sale item $13 and give it a visible location in the store.
Marketing your Friday the 13th event
Just because this is a flash sale doesn’t mean you can’t build buzz. Don’t give too much away as the event approaches, but definitely get word out that prices on select merchandise will be slashed on April 13th.
Hang up posters, hand out flyers and spread the word to people who come into the store. Start a social media campaign teasing the upcoming event the week before. If you or your student employees are comfortable on camera, this would be a great time to incorporate some video on your page.
Facebook algorithms have changed. Make sure your event posts aren’t asking for people to share, like or comment.
For the store event, set up a Facebook event. It will help you pass the word to your followers and help those who are interested in various sales throughout the day stay informed. Schedule posts ahead of time for each item that you put on sale.
Here are some examples for platform-specific posts.
We’re slashing prices this Friday the 13th. ⚡ Catch one of our 13 flash sales to get [examples of sale merchandise] for $13. Don’t miss your chance to get the items you want!
Change your luck this Friday the 13th. ⚡ Catch one of our 13 flash sales to get [examples of sale merchandise] for $13. #school #bookstorename
We’re slashing prices this Friday the 13th. ⚡ Catch one of our 13 flash sales to get [examples of sale merchandise] for $13. #school #bookstorename #flashsale #Fridaythe13th
Items included in the marketing kit:
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Does your store do anything special for Friday the 13th? We'd love to hear about it.