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A sidewalk sale is an outdoor sales event that retailers hold to get rid of end-of-season merchandise. In sidewalk sales, merchandise is always placed outside the storefront. Since the outside entrance to most stores has traditionally been off of a sidewalk, this is where the name for the sale originates. Sidewalk sales may be annual, semi-annual or one-time events. A sidewalk sale is usually held in the summer months.
Any type of retail business may have a sidewalk sale. In general though, clothing stores, book stores and gift shops are among the most likely retailers to have these types of sales. Electronics and luxury goods retailers don't usually have sidewalk sales because their goods are expensive and may be easy to steal when placed outdoors away from store security cameras. The only security a small sidewalk sale may have is a cashier watching from inside the store's window. Some may have a table set up outdoors with a cash box to make change, but many of these outdoor sales are set up for customers to pay for their purchases indoors in the store.
A sidewalk sale for a clothing retailer could be as simple as several racks of clothes and some bins of accessories all marked down to between 50% and 75% off. A bookstore's sidewalk sale may feature shelves of books organized by discount prices, such as one rack that is marked two books for the price of one. Some sidewalk sales may involve an entire shopping center or strip mall.
Customers usually like sidewalk sales because they can look for bargains without having to enter the store. Sidewalk sales are also convenient for people that are walking dogs or pushing children in strollers. They benefit retailers by allowing them to entice new customers as items outside the store do attract attention. Having a sidewalk sale is also a great way for retailers to please regular customers as seasonal stock may be reduced by large amounts. Retailers may advertise the sale in advance in local newspapers.
Stores often need rooms for fall and winter items so summer is a great time to mark down items that haven’t sold. Some sidewalk sales may also feature back to school bargains. Events such as face painting and prize draws can help attract customers to a sidewalk sale.