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July 4th Sparks E-mail Circular Blitz

Welcoming the heat of summer, while still feeling the heat from the lagging economy, retailers hoped to entice shoppers away from the beaches and into their stores during the recent Fourth of July weekend.

When sales are sluggish, retailers have to find innovative ways to draw customers. One affordable marketing trend seems to be the use of e-mail promotions. Prior to the holiday weekend, many retailers supplemented their traditional newspaper ad circulars with e-mailed ones. (Many merchants also post their print circulars on their Web sites.) In some cases, such as CompUSA, the e-specials were for in-store purchases only; in other cases, such as Circuit City, the sale prices were available online, over the phone and in stores.

Sales items ran the CE gamut and rarely conformed to any seasonal theme — Independence Day, outdoor sports or otherwise. Instead, retailers touted everything from gaming devices to PCs to home theater components. Even department store JCPenney included one CE item, a digital camera, in its promo. On the right are a few e-mails and online offers that appeared earlier this month to rally Americans to spend.