How Ever-Changing Seasonal Scenes Keep Bath & Body Works In-Store Traffic Strong

In marketing, seasonality is big business. From holiday sales to blink-and-you'll-miss-them product drops and food specials, seasonal marketing takes advantage of our human nature by instilling a pervasive fear of missing out — a.k.a. FOMO.

Take, for instance, the nearly cult-like adoration and anticipation that has grown around Starbucks' annual release of the pumpkin spice latte. Typically, the crowd-favorite PSL is released in September, causing a sales spike. For example, in 2016, the latte's release day was the 10th busiest of the year in overall number of customers (via Forbes). Could they make bank by offering this drink year-round? Almost certainly. But unlimited availability would dilute the excitement, urgency, and overall FOMO of the drink's seasonal release, likely decreasing its value as a driver of foot traffic.

Limited-time offers also allow brands to strategically add excitement and brand awareness at will. Perhaps nothing embodies this better than the elusive McRib, which has been hopping on and off of McDonald's menus for 40 years. As marketing on the McDonald's website blatantly states, "The McRib has limited availability, that's part of the reason why it's so special." How effective is this tactic for the brand? Let's put it this way: fans of the sandwich have created their own McRib Locator to make sure they don't miss out.

But seasonal products and marketing are not limited to the realm of food service — they're also incredibly useful tools in retail. And no retail brand understands how to keep up their foot traffic by leveraging seasonality like perennial mall and outlet favorite Bath & Body Works.

Bath & Body Works has mastered seasonality and FOMO

Want to know everything about Bath & Body Works (B&BW)? You aren't alone. The brand has attracted a community of die-hard fans because it understands the benefit of tying products to a specific moment in time. B&BW constantly rotates through a catalog of heavily seasonal scents like Pumpkin Bonfire and Winter Candy Apple, ensuring there is always something new to anticipate and something being phased out to stock up on.

In fact, B&BW carries 300 to 400 different scent lines at any given time, climbing up to 500 around the holidays (via This huge product range helps create that desired sense of FOMO. With so many products vying for space, your favorite could suddenly vanish from shelves. At the same time, some scents are only available at certain locations, driving exclusivity and customers' need to do the rounds at multiple stores in their area. To push this shopping frenzy even higher, B&BW will occasionally re-release a limited run of retired favorites.

Analytics from SafeGraph confirm that this strategy has been a winner for the sweet-smelling brand. Observing foot traffic between January 2019 and July 2022, the only notable drop in store visitors was around April 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic initially kept customers at home. However, within two months, traffic rebounded to pre-pandemic levels and has remained on its consistent course since then. Rarely does the chain's daily traffic dip below 40,000 visitors, and during the holiday shopping season, it can soar as high as 120,000 per day. So, even while malls across the U.S. are struggling (via The New York Times), the ongoing success of Bath & Body Works illustrates how smart seasonal sales can keep in-store traffic high.