How to capture the overall upward trend in retail sales

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Retailers large and small have gotten some good, broad-based news in recent weeks. Retail sales on the whole are growing, according to The Wall Street Journal. Clothing stores led the charge with the Gap's bevy of different storefronts and Victoria's Secret parent company L Brands. Overall, the retail sales index, which is compiled by Thomson Reuters, grew 4.4 percent in July, beating out a projection set through the index in the summer of 2013. Consumer confidence in general has also remained relatively high, according to the Consumer Sentiment Index put out by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan. Although the month-by-month number declined from 82.5 in June to 81.8 in July, the overall figures are still positive and indicate that the general public is feeling secure in terms of purchasing power and related future developments.

For retailers in the back-to-school season and those looking further into the future toward the winter holiday sales period, effective visual merchandising should be a cornerstone of their ongoing sales strategies. By effectively utilizing the building blocks of a retail display strategy, such as commercial clothes racks and store display fixtures, businesses in many different markets can attract the attention of shoppers and generate more purchases than would otherwise be possible. It sounds simple, but some businesses overlook these needs until the desire to update and improve their displays is immediate.

A busy season coming up
Nearly every retailer will be involved in the back-to-school season or some of the various holidays following it, and most will be involved heavily in both. This busy sales time comes as stores are beginning to move past the more languid summer retail period. A renewed early focus on visual merchandising and getting the most out of display fixtures can provide long-term benefits through the beginning of 2015.

A self-assessment of current fixture and display inventory can be a good place to start. Retailers that want to feature more products in the coming months should consider their current shelf space availability and make plans for expansion if there isn't enough room. Businesses with sufficient real estate available for products can turn their eyes to the mannequins, display tables and other pieces of retail infrastructure that allow for eye-catching, revenue-boosting displays. Putting in orders and selecting the right pieces ahead of time gives retailers plenty of opportunities to craft effective seasonal displays of merchandise.

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