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Easter – a Movable Feast

Mar 22, 2016 2 min

Easter is great. For Christians it’s the holiest date in the calendar, for many non-Christians it’s all about chocolate.

But for retail planners in particular Easter is also one of the most annoying annual events as its date moves every year. There’s been talk, since at least 1923, of fixing the date. But until that happens retailers have to manage, through forecasting and demand planning, huge variations in volumes in the wide range of items affected.

When Easter is very early, as it is in 2016, then we are very much in late-winter/early-spring mode. In the more northerly countries there might even be snow on the ground. If Easter falls late (it can be as late as April 24th and in 2019 it will fall on April 21st) then we are well and truly into spring and moving towards summer. And on a sunny, late-Easter holiday weekend, brave northern Europeans, deprived of warmth and daylight through the long dark winter, can get all excited and go a bit crazy with barbecues! We can see the various influences that different Easter conditions have on demand, not just for particular products, but also between individual stores. For instance, in seaside and other tourist areas, stores can see significant uplifts when Easter falls later. City stores on the other hand tend to do significantly better when Easter comes early.

So, how are retail planners supposed to tackle this?

Supply Chain Eggsellence – Treating Easter as a Process, not an Event

With good planning these variations can be accommodated; seasonal forecasting that accounts for the Easter date and weather impacts, right down to individual items in individual stores, can help manage the effects. Never is the old cliché ‘retail is detail’ more true than when planning for Easter. Item-level forecasting and planning enables a retailer to get the most out of their supply chain during what can be a very busy time and, if you get it right, a very profitable time.

As our customers say; ‘Relax, we have RELEX’ – it takes the hassle out of planning and optimizing your business year-round, but especially when the going gets tough. The advent of in-memory database technology, with its power and flexibility, has made reducing waste, lowering inventory, increasing sales and profitability, and generally optimizing your supply chain, an ever more manageable task. That means less worry, less sweat and more time either to celebrate a special festival or just to eat way too much chocolate.

The secret to managing seasons is to think of them as a process, not an event: Easter is just like Christmas or Black Friday when forecasting and planning. Read more about how to tackle such processes in an earlier blog post: The best kept secret for a merry Christmas in retail or get right into supercharging your seasonal management by reading our whitepaper: Maximize seasonal sales – Minimize residual stock.

Written by

Andrew Blatherwick

Chairman Emeritus and Advisor