Retailers are gearing up for Easter, but few are running marketing campaigns that stand out

Easter is a big deal. Not in the same league as Christmas but still, four whole days off work. This year in particular, with Easter falling so late, we’ve had to wait more than three months for a long weekend. The anticipation is palpable. 

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It’s also important for retailers. Easter drives sales. All the major retailers that have released sales figures in the past couple of months, including John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, have blamed the fact that Easter falls in April, rather than the first quarter, for a dip in performance.

Kantar’s most recent figures showed that grocery market growth fell to its slowest pace in at least 12 years in the first three months of 2014, blamed in part on the late fall of Easter. The British Retail Consortium says total retail sales dropped by 0.3 per cent in March, down from a 0.7 per cent rise the previous month and again because of Easter.

Public holidays are always a time when people will spend more. Factor in that Easter tends to coincide with the end of winter and (hopefully) some warmer weather and consumers are even more in the mood to spend.

The perfect time then, you might think, for retailers to capitalise by launching innovative marketing campaigns designed to pull customers into their shops. Yet they aren’t making as much of the opportunity as they should.

A quick search to find out which retailers are doing something interesting this year draws a blank. B&Q’s new ad is nice and there is an opportunity there, almost makes me want to do some DIY this Easter, but it’s hardly ground-breaking.

Ditto Asda, which has gone with its usual theme of showing off its cheaper pricing, this time through the medium of three small chicks that represent Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons and one large, moonwalking chick that represents Asda.

Even the digital stuff is same old same old. Tesco once again has an Easter Egg hunt powered by Google’s Street View, Asda a virtual reality hunt around its stores.

Nothing wrong with a tried and tested formula, but this year we might have hoped for something more. Christmas and the first few months of the year were disastrous for a number of retailers. Easter, coming as it does in April and with some lovely sunny weather both behind us and to look forward to this weekend, provides an opportunity to start afresh.

Unlike Christmas, during the Easter holidays people get out and do stuff which means this was the time to capture consumer’s imagination with something witty, something different, something fun. Most of the UK’s working population are too old to be lured in by cute chicks and endless rows of chocolate and too unmotivated to do home improvements.

Instead I’d like some great deals and ideas on entertaining friends, shops offering more than just 50 per cent off offers and instead highlighting new bright clothing ranges and ways to spend my day without it involving a hammer or a spade.

Failing that, just a few less chicks.

Happy Easter!

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