Build-A-Bear's 'Pay Your Age Day' promotion ended in chaos, but it transformed a failing quarter into a success for the company

  • In July, Build-A-Bear stores were forced to shut down the retailer’s “Pay Your Age Day” promotion early as chaotic crowds prompted safety concerns and “madness” overtook stores.
  • Last week, the company revealed that the deal helped save the quarter, with sales trends reversing from deeply negative to positive double digits.
  • “Pay Your Age Day” was the highest-measured day of store traffic in the company’s history, with more than half a million people visiting Build-A-Bear locations.

In July, Build-A-Bear‘s “Pay Your Age Day” celebration ended early in chaos. However, the deal was ultimately a success for the chain, boosting sales more than executives anticipated.

Build-A-Bear was set to celebrate “Pay Your Age Day” in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom in mid-July, with customers purchasing a stuffed animal and paying only the amount of their age. However, before the day was half over, Build-A-Bear said it would not allow any more customers to enter locations, citing “crowds and safety concerns.”

At the time, Neil Saunders, the managing director of GlobalData Retail, said that Build-A-Bear was a “victim of its own success.”

Last week, Build-A-Bear reported consolidated net retail sales had increased 6.1% in the most recent quarter, to $US81 million, compared to the same quarter in 2017. While the company reported a pre-tax loss of $US2.5 million for the quarter, executives said that focusing on the loss ignored the overwhelming success of the promotion.

According to Sharon Price John, Build-A-Bear’s CEO, the first nine weeks of the quarter were well below expectations, with sales declining in the double digits. Following “Pay Your Age Day” in mid-July, sales skyrocketed, with comparable sales tripling.

“The surge of interest from the promotion helped to drive profitable double-digit sales increases throughout the balance of the quarter and we believe will have far-reaching implications,”John said in a call with investors.

According to John, more than half a million people visited Build-A-Bear stores on “Pay Your Age Day,” making it the highest-measured day of store traffic in the company’s history.

Following the chaos of “Pay Your Age Day,” Build-A-Bear gave out vouchers to all members of its loyalty program.

It also introduced a new promotion called “Count Your Candles,” a deal that allows loyalty program members to only pay their age when building stuffed animals at Build-A-Bear during their birthday month. Roughly one million people signed up for Build-A-Bear’s loyalty program in the quarter due to the promotions, a sizeable addition to the previous figure of 5 million.

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