Get Your Retailers Ready for the Holidays


Get your Main Street retailers to make the holiday shopping experience fun, memorable, and easy. For many consumers, shopping during the holidays is stressful, a chore, and time consuming. Retailers need to understand this perception, seek to reframe this thinking, and make their stores enticing, engaging, educational, and entertaining!

Use the Walt Disney approach in developing a seasonal strategy: “start with the end in sight.” What do you want customers to be saying, feeling, experiencing? What will they say when they leave the store? Create and manage the momentum in your store through a combination of special events, visual enhancements, community ties, special services, and an enthusiastic staff! Create a “buzz” to assure your clients that shopping at your business will be fun and hassle-free. “Hassle-free shopping” could include pre-wrapped items, wish lists, delivery, extended store hours, phone consultations, appointments, etc. Get creative!

Create a Holiday Look

Refresh the store’s look for the holiday season.

  • Create an overall theme, color palette, etc., to set a magical mood. Check out these Christmas Decoration Trends for fresh ideas. Also, if there is a design or interior decorating school nearby, it could be a great source of talent—the students can bring a fresh perspective.
  • Make creative gift wrapping a marketing opportunity. Ask your paper supplier for examples of new, yet cost-effective, ways to add zing to your gift wrapping. Create a signature look that defines the business.
  • Let creative signage be your silent salesperson.  Find ways to communicate product stories, unique uses, origin of product, something whimsical, etc. Ask someone who does calligraphy to create small signs that can be displayed in frames or on small easels. It’s fun to watch the customer’s reaction and it’s a great way to start a dialogue.
  • Create price-point groupings for items under $10 and products ranging from $10-25. Make the display attractive and pre-wrap several of each item. “Grab and go” will be extremely popular this holiday season.
  • Create sensory experiences: smell cookies baking, apple cider warming, vanilla candles burning; see a vast assortment of products that are well displayed; hear the local string quartet or harpist; encourage customers to touch and handle products; and try on items. Taste the goodies that are out on the counters. Appeal to all the senses. Vendors will often supply products for sampling free of charge.
  • Offer a “Grand Giveaway” valued at $500. Seek support for this promotion from your top vendors and partner with a complimentary business to sell you their product at a discount and vice versa. Put this together in a gorgeous presentation! Invite customers to start registering on December 1st. They can register each time they make a purchase. Vendors are quite willing to support this type of marketing – just give their brand credit. Be sure and e-mail customers about the Grand Giveaway to entice them to your store.

Welcome and Wanted: Marketing to Customers

Approach the holiday season as a time for hospitality. Think of ways you can welcome customers and clients, Underline the “welcome and wanted” mentality that customers so rarely experience in stores today! Here are a few ideas:

  • Make a "joyful noise"—carefully select small musical groups to perform in your store, donate to arts/musical council, etc.
  • Invite customers to create an ornament to bring in to place on the charity tree. The store can choose two or three charities to support through a $2-$3 donation for each ornament received. Cap the number of ornaments at 50 or 75.
  • Entertain children waiting in the Santa line by using videos, arts/crafts projects, etc.
  • Give children a chance to develop a relationship with Santa. Set up a phone line so children can call Santa.  Have senior citizens staff the phones.
  • Use a photo of Santa with a different child every day in your ads.
  • Write a thank-you note to Santa's visitors. Include a store coupon for a return visit.
  • Match up a senior citizens group with needy children and have a Christmas party.
  • Find space for a coat/package check—“Sack Sitters.”
  • Hire runners and/or doormen to help people get their packages to their cars.
  • Offer delivery to nearby offices. Put the runners in big shirts or sweatshirts with a large store logo, carrying oversized bags that also feature your store's logo.
  • Set up a temporary cart or table offering package wrapping and shipping.

Create a Buzz Downtown

Experiment with special promotions that can create a “buzz” in your town!

  • “Sleepless in _________(your town).” Have a pajama party, serve espresso, hire a limo to pick up customers and take them home with their gift packages all wrapped and ready. Consider giving away some teddy bears, soft throws, or small pillows. Let your creative side go wild with this concept! Have fun!
  • Select a cause, charity, or club and team up with them for an in-store event. Give a percentage of the sales to the charity, and use members of the group to “pre-sell” the event. Let them be assistants “on the floor.” These types of events can raise awareness of both the charity and your business. Create pre-press releases, with photos—they are a key to success.
  • Pampered Patron Party or GNO (Girls Night Out). Invite your top clients for a night of shopping that includes some pampering. Hire a massage therapist for neck/shoulder massages, reflexologist to offer foot and leg pressure point release, hair stylist, make-up artist, or color analyst. Make it a night to remember! Often these practitioners will offer their services for free as a way to promote their businesses.
  • Silent Night Silent Auction—everyone loves an auction—secure vendor donations; make it cause-related.

Reach out to the corporate world and other small business owners to sell gift certificates in bulk for a substantial discount, i.e., pre-sell $50, $75, or $100 cards for 25 percent off! Make this a UVP (Unique Value Proposition). The $50 gift card only costs the customer $37.50, and it is personalized and gift wrapped in packaging that has a distinctive “WOW” factor. It’s a win-win—no hassle, cost and time saving for the business owner, and a way to bring new clients into your store! Also, these gift cards are frequently redeemed for more than the full value; thus the effective markdown is less

Reach out to your Facebook fans with special “daily deals” or create an event to promote through social media. This easy-to-implement marketing can pay big dividends with very little cost. 
Unleash your creativity, involve your staff, and look for ways to enhance the experiences customers can have in your store during this holiday season!