Hiring is up. Housing is bouncing back. Gas prices are down, keeping cash in consumers’ wallets. Key economic indicators, according to the recently released National Retail Federation holiday report, point to increased spending power this holiday season. That’s a welcome gift to the nation’s retailers who weathered a lackluster summer and the polar vortex of last winter.
This year holiday sales are expected to increase by 4.1% over last year, to $619 billion. Deloitte’s annual survey is even more optimistic, predicting a 9 percent rise in spending on gifts. How important are holiday sales? In just a few weeks retailers earn nearly 20% percent of their annual sales of $3.2 trillion. According to NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, “While expectations for sales growth are upbeat” he notes that consumers are still extremely price conscious. Savvy retailers, Shay predicts, “will respond by differentiating themselves and touting price, value and exclusivity.”
Here are just a few ways retailers are hoping to boost holiday sales this year:
Deliver on deep discounts
Shoppers are not just waiting until the last minute, they are holding onto their last dollar. Michele Loeper, marketing manager at fair-trade retailer Ten Thousand Villages, suggests one day deep discounts on special items, backed by displays catering to “panic days” that make it easy for harried shoppers to grab a pre-wrapped gift item and go.
Staff up for better service
Small businesses know their business thrives on providing exceptional service. Successful retailers will hire and train the right staff to provide a positive consumer experience in this especially stressful time.
Sync your website to your brick and mortar store
The ability to shop across multiple channels is more important than ever. According to the Deloitte report, “Consumers who shop across store, mobile and online channels are expected to spend 66 percent more on gifts than those shopping stores only.” Forrester Research forecasts a record $89 billion worth of gifts purchased on online this holiday season, up 13 percent over last years’ online purchases.
With last year’s polar vortex still fresh in their minds, major retailers like Walmart and Target are rolling out in-store pickup services to make sure consumers can get their gifts on time. Instead of ordering online, then hoping FedEx or UPS can deliver on schedule, customers can now pick up their gifts in the store, ahead of the holidays. In addition to ensuring the gifts are available, the stores experience the added benefit of increased foot traffic. Once shoppers are in the store to pick up their items, retailers are betting consumers will find it hard to resist the holiday promotions on display. According to Eddie Baeb, a Target representative, “In-store pickup now accounts for about 15 percent of all online Target orders.”
Ensure your execution is flawless
Quoted in Bloomberg’s Business Week, Eileen Mockus, CEO of home furnishings company Coyuchi, creates her own seasonal calendar, mapping out every activity to the end of the year. It’s vital to make every day count, she says. “Put together events, promotions, product introductions, shipping offers, e-mails, and other marketing offers. Plan ahead so the details are figured out and at the busiest time of year all you are focused on is flawless execution.”
At Gigwalk we couldn’t agree more. Execution has to be perfect and understanding gaps in retail execution are critical to a retailer’s and brand’s success. Here’s to perfect retail execution this holiday season!
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