The Christmas creep is upon us. The term was coined in the 1980s and refers to the holiday shopping season that begins earlier and earlier each year. This year is no exception. Almost as soon as Halloween ended, Christmas was making its way onto the shelves of most retail stores — and into consumer consciousness. The Black Friday mentality is evolving to a month-long event rather than a day of intense shopping. With online sales expecting a major boost, what’s in store for brick-and-mortar retail this holiday season? How can college stores capitalize on the forecasted trends?
The big news in retail is the predicted growth in online shopping. No surprises here, US online retail is expected to grow 13.8% over last year, meaning it could reach $107.4 billion in sales. This increase in online sales will go hand-in-hand with mobile use, which could surpass desktop traffic for holiday purchases.
One great way for college stores to gain traffic during the holidays is to boost your online presence. Offer seasonal online bargains and open up a gift registry so students can easily share their top present choices with their families. In addition to your usual sale promotions, share current and upcoming promotions across social media channels frequently. Social media is in a constant state of change. The more you share, the better chance you have of reaching a wider audience.
85% of shoppers surveyed by the International Council of Shopping Centers said promotions influence the gifts they purchase.
However, online shopping doesn’t give us the whole picture. Brick-and-mortar shopping is far from dead. In fact, this year holiday spending in stores is expected to grow up to 4%, bringing total spending to around $682 billion — outselling eCommerce 5-1. Over Thanksgiving weekend, 84% of shoppers surveyed plan to spend in physical stores. However, Black Friday doesn’t have to be the end-all-be-all of the shopping season. More stores are offering Black Friday-type deals earlier in the month, giving shoppers an overall better experience by creating a great deal and helping them beat the Black Friday crowds.
84% of shoppers plan to purchase as much or more than they did last year.
Even though students leave for Thanksgiving break, consider hosting your own Black Friday-type sale at another time. Set it up in conjunction with buyback to take advantage of the increased traffic into your store. This will encourage students to spend their buyback funds in your store. Make your sale stand apart by giving it a theme or hosting it as an after-hours event. Advertise the sale as much as possible and build anticipation for the event.
The most popular gift purchases are food & beverages (82%), electronics (79%) and apparel (77%).
When planning your event, think about the customers you haven’t been able to reach in the past. Is there an opportunity to bring them into the sale? The Fresno State Kennel Bookstore’s holiday sale resulted in $100,000 in sales with the help of a faculty and staff preview event. By making a special evening event for faculty and staff, the store was able to draw in traffic that hadn’t been able to take advantage of the sale in the past.
We would love to hear about any holiday promotions your store runs in the comments below.