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[5 comments]

A different kind of 'Christmas in July' event

July 10, 2014

It's become common this time of year for retailers of various sorts to run Christmas in July events. I hate them — not only because they're a reminder of "Christmas creep" but also because phony baloney Black Fridays that come during the middle of summer pitches don't, in my experience, tend to work all that well. Perhaps the latter reason is why, mercifully, there seem to be fewer of these events locally this year. That said, I may have found an exception in the one currently being run by Boscov's, a 43-unit privately owned department store chain based in Pennsylvania.

What makes Boscov's event different than all the others? The biggest difference is that Boscov's is holding a food drive for needy families as well as one to collect clothing and personal care items for disabled veterans. The event runs through the end of the month.

"We have done events like this in the past — often during the holidays," Brad Meese, Boscov's regional public relations manager, told the Daily Local News. "But a lot of kids are out of school right now and could use the extra support and food."

One of the appealing elements of the drive is that Boscov's supports local charities.

"It's raised in the community and it stays in the community," Irene Kelly, a Boscov's spokesperson, told the Standard Speaker.

People interested in supporting the food drive are asked to drop off non-perishable boxed or canned foods at collection bins at Boscov's stores. The food collected is primarily used to help feed kids during the summer months when they're out of school.

The clothing and personal care drive supports the Keystone Wounded Warriors. Donors can bring new underwear, socks, t-shirts and other clothing to the chain's stores. Personal care items such as bodywash, deodorant, razors, shaving cream, toothpaste and toothbrushes are also needed.

Discussion Questions:

Do you see "Christmas in July" promotions as an effective way to boost sales? What is your reaction to Boscov's program?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

How effective are most "Christmas in July" promotions in boosting sales?

Comments:

Like George, I hate "Christmas in July" on general principle but I have to praise Boscov's community-based approach to both retailing and charity.

It is obviously critical that local businesses leverage their community identities as a point of differentiation from national and/or global chains. So, from one perspective Boscov is doing nothing more or less than what they need to do as local merchants, but I still give them high marks.

Charity doesn't always begin at home—but it should.

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Ryan Mathews, Founder, ceo, Black Monk Consulting

Bravo for Boscov's!

It's not always about low price or deals. Marketing "with a cause" has been increasingly catching on with consumers. Boscov's events have great causes that have strong appeal to consumers. Most importantly, the focus is on donations in local communities, which also has appeal for consumers.

One of the slowest times of the year in retail can be the doldrums of July. By having consumers bring items to stores, they immediately create traffic. Even if this does not immediately result in sales, the events and purpose have the ability to drive "good will" benefit and association with the Boscov's brand.

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Chris Petersen, PhD, President, Integrated Marketing Solutions

Great creative engagement with the community. Some of the most successful companies are known for their community and charitable efforts. Doing something in July that is typically done in December during holiday time is creative.

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Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations, LLC

Purely from a community need standpoint, the summer is a time when many school age kids don't get enough to eat. To the extent that this promotion benefits hungry kids as indicated above, kudos to Boscov's.

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Brian Numainville, Principal, The Retail Feedback Group

I am not sure "Christmas in July" is any more effective than any other sales tagline at this time of year. Consumers perceive such sales as just gimmicks designed to drive more sales revenue — which actually is true.

Most charity promotions show little lift; consumers face so many of them that they seldom react. However, the local design of the charity events should have a greater impact, since in retailing as well as politics, "everything is local."

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Mark Price, Managing Partner, M Squared Group, Inc.

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