If you’re in the retail business, ‘tis the season to be jolly. Very jolly, indeed.
Economists are predicting that total retail sales will eclipse $1.1 trillion this holiday season, an increase of nearly 5 percent compared to 2018. This is the continuation of an upward year-over-year trend.
Online retailers are singing an even sweeter tune, with internet sales expected to leap 18 percent as shoppers increasingly reach for their smartphones over their car keys during the holidays.
On the surface, it seems like e-commerce is eating brick-and-mortar retail, especially during the crucial window between Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, it’s more complicated than that. A deeper look at an analysis of how much local retailers make throughout the year reveals three ways that local brick-and-mortar retailers can still rake in the green this holiday season.
Bolt Onto Black Friday
Black Friday has become the centerpiece of American consumer culture, with some shoppers busting doors (and sometimes skulls) to grab fire-sale items from big-box shops, while others scroll through Amazon.com deals on their smartphones before Thanksgiving dinner has gotten cold.
Local retailers don’t have to sit out this massive consumer holiday. According to an analysis of sales at 52,000 independent retailers, a massive 62 percent surge in sales made Black Friday the No. 5 sales day for local shops last year.
About one in four local retailers was closed on Black Friday last year, likely because they conceded the day to the Best Buys and Amazons of the world. That’s clearly a mistake. The data shows that the Black Friday spending frenzy spills over to small shops. Extend your hours, run your own promotions, and let your loyal customers know you’ll be open for business.
Stick With Small Business Saturday
Although it’s not the economic force of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday has gained some traction since American Express invented it in 2010. Last year, the day after Black Friday was the 81st-ranked day for local retail sales, with revenues up 19 percent.
There’s something powerful about small businesses having a whole day — and millions of free marketing dollars — dedicated to them. Two-thirds of Americans have high confidence in small businesses, according to Gallup, compared to a paltry 23 percent supporting big businesses. People want small businesses to win, and Small Business Saturday is their chance to vote with their wallets.
Focus your Small Business Saturday marketing on idealistic shoppers who are as interested in supporting their community as they are in finding a deal. Many shoppers will find a “shop local” message refreshing during a season when they’re pummeled with ads from faceless corporations.
Be a Savior to Last-Minute Shoppers
No matter how much logistical jiu-jitsu Amazon pulls off, there’s a limit to how well e-commerce can accommodate the last-minute shopper. Two-day shipping won’t save you on Christmas Eve, and shipping time expands in crunch time.
As Christmas nears and the anxiety level rises for procrastinators, local businesses are primed to benefit. The data backs this up. Last year, the Friday and Saturday before Christmas were the No. 1 and No. 2 sales days of the year, respectively, for local shops.
Stores lining Main Streets everywhere need to trumpet this advantage. Let shoppers know you’re open right up to the bitter end and you don’t suffer from high-stakes hiccups like shipments stymied by snow. Consider extending your hours during the final week before Christmas, which was far and away the top money-maker for small retailers last year.
The world may have gone digital, but brick-and-mortar still has plenty to offer. Adjust your holiday playbook and have the greenest season yet.
Brad Plothow is vice president of corporate marketing and communications at Womply, a CRM and marketing software company serving 450,000 small businesses across the country.