Loss leaders still serve a purpose

Most RetailWire panelists (like me) have been around the block, so the phenomenon of loss leaders for Back to School is not exactly groundbreaking. And most agree with me that it’s a useful tool, even in today’s digitally enabled shopping environment:

I agree with other panelists that loss leaders are useful in driving sales and store (or site) traffic. Anybody with a long memory (Gimbels, anyone?) knows that loss leaders have been around for decades, and the phenomenon of cherry-picking is at least as old as Black Friday circulars.

What’s different is shoppers’ ability to do their cherry-picking on their smartphones, but I’m still skeptical about the number of consumers willing to drive from store to store to save on pencils here, glue sticks there, and so forth — versus the convenience of one-stop in-store or online shopping. So these loss leaders are a calculated gamble that shoppers lured in by the giveaways will stay to fill their carts.


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