Increasing sales is the goal of any retailer at any time of year, but there are certain times of year that are natural opportunities to bring in more customers and grow your business.

Joseph Bortner, senior category manager for Rutter’s in York, Pennsylvania, said that, while seasonal opportunities are critical across all categories, some stand out more than others.

“I’d contend that confection is the most important category as it pertains to seasonal,” he said. “I’d say as a percentage of category sales, no other category has the seasonal impact on total business as does confection.”

Bortner is one of four panelists who will discuss the importance of seasonal sales in Thursday’s session “Growing Baskets with Seasonal Offerings” from 8-9 a.m. in room A313.

(Check out all the education sessions and sort by data and topic here.)

He will be joined by Peter Kempton Jr., senior category manager for TravelCenters of America, Jason Zelinski, vice president for North American retail for NIQ, and Rebecca Gregory, center store category manager for Weigel’s Stores Inc.

Whatever your seasonal products may be, Kempton said marketing is crucial in getting the word out about what you have in your store.

“Marketing is key to maximize a successful season. Whether it’s through loyalty, social or signage, you need to be able to draw customers to choose you over the competition,” he said.

And once you have those customers in your store, Kempton said there are several techniques you can use to keep them there—and keep them coming back.

“Keep it fresh. Don’t be afraid to try new and creative ways to enhance seasons in your stores,” he said. “Depending on cost constraints, decorating is a fun way to call attention in store and it keeps store personnel engaged.”

No matter what product you have, Bortner said seasonal items represent an opportunity to grow business, drive innovation and engage consumers in meaningful ways.

“It’s an opportunity to create moments,” he said. “I think everyone can agree when they have a Reese’s pumpkin that it takes them back to being a kid again. It brings on nostalgia and memories of holidays past.”

The session will also offer up forecasting and promotional strategies for seasonal as well as ways to drive sales year-round.

“When consumers stop at our locations, it’s critical that we’re delivering convenience,” he added. “In order to deliver convenience, it means we’re adapting our seasonal product mix depending on the location, time of year or store type.”