Four Christmas retailer tips and opportunities for this year’s festive period

Many independent retailers rely on the Christmas shopping season to stay afloat during leaner months. During the annual festive shopping bonanza, UK shoppers spend over £16 billion in stores across the country.

05th December 2015

christmas retailer tipsAs a retailer, gaining even a modest slice of this very large pie will significantly increase your takings. For retailers who sell gifts, Christmas jumpers, groceries and chocolates, Christmas promotions aren’t difficult to implement - these shops are selling products that are always in demand over Christmas, and don’t need to be overly imaginative to market them. Conversely, businesses in largely unrelated sectors such as builders’ merchants and hardware stores must work harder to plan and implement Christmas promotions and secure a slice of that pie. Here are some Christmas tips for retailers who are struggling to take advantage of the season’s promotional opportunities.

#1 Consider the customer

‘Christmas shopping’ is a catch all term that disguises the different types of shoppers that might visit your store during the festive season. Your marketing efforts should reflect the different motivations and needs of these customers. For example, last minute Christmas shoppers will be after fail-safe gifts that may already be wrapped, and they probably won’t be as fussy about price, whereas shoppers earlier in the season will be far more discerning. You could also choose to target bargain hunters during the Boxing Day sales. Think about which approach is best suited to your business, your customers, and the products you sell.

#2 Change your emphasis

As a builders’ merchant, trade custom might be the foundation of your business, but during the Christmas shopping period you may wish to change emphasis. Instead, stock more DIY products that could pass as gifts. Toolkits, toolboxes, multi-tools, power tools and torches all make great gifts for the DIY enthusiast. Push these goods to the front of your store and promote them heavily, offering carefully planned discounts to prompt purchases without leaving you out of pocket. You could make an exception with a couple products, offering them as loss leaders to attract trade. Your aim should be to receive passing trade in addition to reaching out through a wider marketing campaign.

#3 Christmas themed promotions

You needn’t go after Christmas shoppers at all – you can take advantage of the season in another way. Integrate Christmas themes and symbols into your current marketing campaign. Eyes will still be drawn by clever use of Christmas imagery and wordplay, and you may even earn plaudits from customers for not trying to market saws, spanners and timber as unlikely Christmas gifts. You could run a 12 days of Christmas promotion, with a new offer each day. You might opt for an ‘advent calendar’ on social media instead, where offers are revealed on your Twitter or Facebook page. Alternatively, run a Christmas event for your customers, such as a raffle. A portion of every ticket sale could go to charity, and the prizes can be gift vouchers for your store.

#4 Charity partnerships

Christmas is all about giving, after all. Partnering with a charity over the Christmas period may be seen by some as a blatant PR move, but if you choose a local charity that you have links to, the partnership can be a genuine and fruitful one. You could run a Christmas appeal for that charity, make a donation to them based on a percentage of your Christmas takings, or even just keep a collection box on the counter during December. If your partnership is successful, you will gain plenty of press and social media marketing opportunities – and you’ll raise your reputation in the local community.

As a local builders’ merchant, you may not have the same opportunities as Harrods, John Lewis or M&S, but we hope we’ve shown there are still plenty of ways to celebrate Christmas in-store. Do you have any Christmas tips for fellow retailers? Let us know on LinkedIn.

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