Your Guide To Holding A Labor Day Sale (And Why You Should)

If your small business could use a promotion right now to kick up this year’s sales, look no further – try using a Labor Day sales event as your backdrop.

You don’t really need an excuse to run a sale or offer discounts to promote your small business, but marketing experts say you’ve got a good chance to not only increase sales but win over new customers if you theme it around an already-established holiday or any built-in extended weekend.

Labor Day fits that criteria – not only coinciding with the end of summer, but also back-to-school season.

“Labor Day has come to signify one of the best bargain shopping days of the year,” says Alise Bailey, an editor for the Square.com Town Square blog. “It’s about time to clear your shelves of summer merchandise anyway, so why not offer unbeatable discounts on these items? You’ll delight customers while making room for the fall stock to come. Two birds, one stone.”

Here are a few ideas on how your small business can hold a successful Labor Day sale and why such a promotion works.

Consumers really like sales. “Everyone likes to save money, and everyone likes to think they are getting a bargain,” writes Lisa Hephner in a blog for PaySimple, a service commerce platform for businesses.

“So, as long as you have established a baseline value for your products and services, you can use a discount—whether a sale price, a percentage off, or a set-dollar amount off—to lead a customer to believe that they are scooping up a great deal.”

She cautions of course to tread gently around the numbers, i.e. your pricing. “The very best sale is one in which your customer perceives value in a way that does not significantly affect your bottom line.”

How to offer discounts. Even if you haven’t run promotional discounts for your own business, you already know how they work because you’re a consumer!

One of the first rules going into a promotion like this – particularly businesses that have a brick-and-mortar location in addition to an e-commerce site: make your offers shopping-method neutral.

A Forrester research study on coupons said 60 percent of respondents agreed that they love to receive digital coupons and 50 percent reported being more likely to visit a store if they receive a coupon, according to the PaySimple blog.

Another study from PwC, cited by the blog, found that 46 percent of all respondents, 49 percent of women, and 61 percent of millennials (ages 18-34) report being happy to receive coupons and other holiday offers on their mobile phones.

Whatever promotion you choose for a Labor Day Sale, make sure it’s as easy for a customer to type a code into an online shopping cart on your website, as it is for them to redeem the coupon by presenting an email or text on their phone to a cashier.

Make the time limit clear. Using a holiday theme to drum up business is a great way to increase sales but if it’s a sale offering discounts or something free, be sure to clearly state a time limit on the offer.

“Being a small business, however, means that while you’d like to throw free merchandise and services at your customers all day long you can’t exactly give the milk away for free – or without a solid strategy,” says a post on ThriveHive, a guided marketing and advertising firm owned by UpCurve Inc.

That’s why it needs to be time-specific (with an expiration date). A time-stamped sale for a weekend can work if those are typical hours for your business, but you might need to come up with another time frame for your sale/discount to start and end, and just use the Labor Day theme for the sale.

Depending on your type of business, one idea would be to promote it as a week-long sale that starts on the Friday or Monday of the holiday weekend.

Give Something Away. Instead of a discount, you could make your Labor Day promotion a give-away offer, i.e., free shipping on orders made during the holiday sale. Or add a free gift to every order/purchase if that’s a cost-feasible option for your business.

Free items during a popular shopping weekend are good ideas particularly if you have a lot of competition and want to stand out.

“It’s your job to do something that piques the interest of your audience, and there’s no better way of doing so than by giving something away for free,” says the ThriveHive post.