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Summer Retail: Sales Tax Holidays, Pit Stops, and Where the Deals Are

Memorial Day has passed and while offices still hum with productivity, we can feel summer around the corner. With that in mind, we’ve explored what might be in store for the retail industry this summer.

Although the usual break of seasons has extended somewhat -- we see back-to-school shopping starting in July and holiday shopping starting in October -- there are still some recognized times of the year for good deals. According to consumer trend-spotters, in early summer, shoppers will be looking for fitness-oriented items and tools, perhaps for expected out-of-office time or in preparation for home improvement with warm weather ahead. During the dog days of summer, although one’s mind turns to vacation, for some consumers it will be time to feather the nest. Analysts predict sales of home goods and furniture to be strong in July until consumers turn their attention to school shopping and smaller goods in August.

For many states, this summer will bring a sales tax holiday. Retailers selling big-ticket items such as furniture, appliances, electronics, in addition to major purchases like cars, will need to be prepared with sufficient inventory and also understand what the rules governing sales tax  holidays. Check here for a full list of expected 2015 tax holidays if you think your business might need to gear up for the event.

Retailers will need to staff appropriately for the summer, which can be unpredictable with weather and vacations. A perennial favorite of college students, retail jobs this summer are predicted to be scarce but still available for motivated individuals who don’t mind being persistent and pounding the pavement a bit. Non-mall retailers such as those located in strip malls, shopping plazas, airport stores, hotel retail shops and locally-owned businesses may have their pick of talented applicants once mall retailers fill open positions.

Consumers will hit the road this summer, whether for the once-in-a-lifetime cross country drive or the every-weekend trek to the local beach. Regardless of distance, increased traffic on the roads means increased traffic at gas stations and convenience stores. Earlier in the year, analysts were predicting a few trends in the grocery industry, including an increased focus on technology and health and wellness. These customer-driven enhancements extend to convenience stores such as 7-11, Kroger and Wawa. Families on road trips are demanding many things from their rest stops: clean facilities, healthy snacks and meals, and easy access to fuel and places to relax. Additional menu items, greater attention to healthy options and more green space and dining space around the property will continue to drive the construction, development and upgrades of convenience stores and gas stations.

We are just about ready for summer 2015. As the old Exxon marketing campaign proclaimed: “Happy motoring!”

Related topics: Retail