Campaign Hopes to Catch Consumers “Blue-Handed”

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In an effort to encourage buying from Michigan retailers, the Michigan Retailers Association is sponsoring “Get Caught Blue-Handed” Day on Oct. 5 as part of its Buy Nearby campaign.

On Saturday, participating retailers will offer special activities and promotions, including the opportunity to “Get Caught Blue-Handed” — using blue paint or gloves at some locations — in photos or on video while making a purchase. (The blue is symbolic of the blue in Michigan’s lakes and sky). The photos and video clips will be posted online or displayed in stores.

“We want this to be a very fun event, but it also has a very real, valuable purpose — to increase the number of retail sales that take place within Michigan,” says Tom Scott, vice president of the MRA. “Michigan consumers, like consumers in every other state, are making an increasing number of purchases online from companies that don’t have any presence at all in Michigan.”

Buy Nearby aims to support Michigan retailers, which support one in four Michigan jobs, and are responsible — directly and indirectly — for 18 percent of Michigan’s GDP. Scott says that he hopes the event will help consumers understand that they can help the local and state economy by increasing their number of purchases within the state.

“Because this is a new event, we’re not quite sure how many retailers are going to participate,” says Scott, noting that “Get Caught Blue-Handed” Day will be an annual event. “But there’s been a lot of interest. Our Facebook likes on the Buy Nearby page have increased six fold just over the past week.

“We expect the turnout will be small compared to what it’s potential is, but we expect it to continue to build year after year.”

Perhaps the campaign will provide a boost to the upcoming season’s retail sales, which grew at a slower pace in August, resulting in lower fall sales projections by Michigan retailers.

The August Michigan Retail Index found that 47 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 52.8, down from 63.9 in July. In August 2012, it was 61.7.

Looking forward, 56 percent of retailers expect sales during September–November to increase over the same period last year. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 70.3, down from 82.0 in July.

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