We’ve reached the ‘golden quarter’ – the big peak season for retail, with shoppers flooding the high streets and malls across the country looking for the perfect gifts for their nearest and dearest. There’s no denying it: Christmas is always going to be big news for retailers. And from Christmas decorations to training up temps, there’s a lot to do in preparation for the run up to December. So, how do you make sure your store is ready for the festive rush?
By September 2018, 39% of retailers were unprepared for the golden quarter of the year (starting in October), and 16% said they were still unsure as to when they were likely to start their preparations! To make sure the only jingle you’ll be hearing this year is the sound of the cash register, we’ve gathered our best tips on preparing your store for the run up to Christmas.
- Plan Ahead
Preparation is all about early planning, and that’s the case all year-round. Make sure you’ve got a solid marketing strategy ready for the big day. According to Mintel, customers are craving retail experiences, making 2018 the year of experiential marketing – so why not offer a workshop or class? You could even give out free cups of hot chocolate to keep customers (and sales) hot to trot. Remember to plan in any specific product sales you’ll be hosting over Christmas and into January too!
It’s also a good idea to make a plan of action for certain situations to keep employees (and yourself) calm. Shops get busier and busier the closer we get to the big day, meaning there’s a good chance you’ll come across stock issues, IT issues and possibly even shoplifting. Make sure your staff are all trained up on what to do if any of these situations arise.
Weather can also be unpredictable in the winter months. It’s smart to have a plan of communication for if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
- Hire Christmas Temps
With applications for jobs increasing by 3% over November and December, this influx can make it challenging for you to find the right fit for the position. Assessing applicants by a mixture of their skills, attitude to work and personality will help you find the right candidate for your shop.
It’s also important to start early; on average, it takes 6-8 weeks to fill a vacancy. With the Christmas rush beginning around Black Friday, this means you should ideally start the employment process for Christmas temps around the end of October.
- Decorate Your Store
Making sure your shop is as enticing as possible for passing shoppers is one of the most fun parts about being a retailer at Christmas. This is your chance to get creative and show off why customers should shop with you instead of that other shop down the road.
There are a few key elements to consider when Christmas-ifying your store:
From fairy lights to Christmas tree lights, it wouldn’t be Christmas without them. We’re not saying to create a Santa’s grotto out of your store if it doesn’t suit your brand – you can use lights subtly to outline a sales sign or poster. You could even decorate instore displays or point of sale to draw attention to these areas. There are so many possibilities!
When you think of Christmas, the main colours that spring to mind are red and green. But if your shop wouldn’t suit these colours, there are plenty more to choose from: gold and silver are great for high-end fashion and jewellery shops, rich purples and burgundies can work well for furniture shops, and icy baby blue and snowy pink are great for stationery and children’s toys/clothes shops.
- Christmas Decorations and Ornaments
Snow globes, snowflakes, even powdered snow and polar bears! There are endless possibilities for Christmas decorations. If you are stuck for ideas, we’d recommend decorating a Christmas tree. Try and find baubles that go with your branding/general shop style to make sure it’s 100% you!
In a study by Soundtrack Your Brand, 2000 UK and US consumers were asked their opinion of Christmas songs in a retail environment. Generally, shoppers are in favour of instore Christmas music (43% of Brits), however they don’t want to hear it before the beginning of December – with a third of Brits believing that Christmas music should start on 1st December and not before.
Interestingly, Christmas music can have an effect on retail staff wellbeing, 47% saying their wellbeing was affected positively. Using Christmas music is sure to get both customers and staff rocking around the Christmas tree in your store this year!
- Window Display
From posters and banners to actual window painting, creating your Christmas window display is one of the most important things to focus on when you’re prepping your store. To keep focus, try drawing a sketch of what you want your window display to look like; do you want a scene, a set of mannequins wearing festive clothing, or use a full-sized father Christmas animatronic as your focal point?
- Advertise Your Sales
Christmas specials, offers and January sales are great additions to any Christmas marketing strategy to help boost business in the golden quarter. But you’ve got to let your customers know what’s going on and when – there’s nothing worse than a missed sale!
As well as letting your customers know via email or on social media, you can appeal to new customers by placing an A-frame outside your store inviting people in. Posters also work great in window displays, and flyers make great handouts and magazine inserts if you want to reach an even wider audience with your store.
- Set Your Christmas Opening Hours
By extending your shop’s opening hours, you’re allowing for even more shoppers to venture into your store, which means even more sales! By extending evening hours, shoppers who work during the day still have plenty of time to visit your shop in the evening.
A lot of people use Google Maps and Search to check their favourite shop’s opening hours. Click here for their guide on setting special opening hours on Google My Business.
This is also where you new Christmas temps will come in to play – schedule them to work during any extremely busy times and extra hours you may be open for.
The Christmas period is always going to be busy in retail. But by making sure your shop is prepared for the rush, you and your employees are sure to have a holly, jolly time of it! We hope these tips on preparing your store help to ease the stress, answer some questions and help you decide on which areas you need to plan for.