5 Ways to Increase Christmas Sales for Retail Stores

Mom with kids shopping for holiday decor at a retail store
Encouraging Christmas sales. Image (c) Westend61 / Getty Images

Children may dream of sugarplums, but for retailers, there’s only one vision that matters during the Christmas season: the sales graph. And as the Christmas holiday season is make-or-break time for many retail stores, the overwhelming question is how to get more Christmas sales and make that graph climb as steeply as possible.

The obvious way to get more sales is to get more people into your retail store. Assuming you have a quality product or service, the more people who see or experience what you offer, the more sales you’ll make. With a little effort and some ingenuity, that’s not as hard as you think. Use one or more of these ideas to create your own Christmas retail rush.

Have a Sale

Sound obvious? Before you dismiss this idea out of hand, consider this: pretty much every retail store of every size has some kind of Christmas season sale—because they work.

Now consider this: what if you didn't just have a sale but had one of the sales that just about everyone wanted to attend?

How? Keep these tips in mind:

  • Offer one big bargain a day. Offering big discounts (30% or more) on one well-known item each day to bring Christmas shoppers in can work for you if you have well-known brand merchandise or particular items that people are looking for.
  • Make it a discount, not a thing. In a flier recently, a retailer offered a free pair of socks to anyone spending over $20 in their store over their three-day pre-Christmas sale. But what if you feel you have enough socks or that socks just aren't very Christmassy? They've lost you. On the other hand, everyone can appreciate a discount.
  • Make sure your discount is worthwhile. Shoppers are used to being spoiled. So puny little 5, 10 or even 20% discounts aren't going to cut it unless you do something like a 20% off storewide sale. On individual items, the higher the discount, the better. Shoppers will compare.

And advertise your sale heavily on the most appropriate marketing channels for your ideal customers—social media, newspapers, radio, etc. People need to hear about it if they’re going to turn out and give you the chance to make more Christmas sales.

Hold an Event

As I write this, the Business in Action group in my town is holding a Moonlight Madness event. There will be fire-wielders, jugglers and musicians performing, and, of course, Santa will be visiting. 

Families who come downtown get all kinds of free entertainment—and lots of opportunities to get their Christmas shopping done while all the downtown businesses are open until midnight with special sales. If your town doesn’t have something like this going on this Christmas season, what would it take to get such an event going next year?

There’s nothing to prevent you from holding an event of your own either. The trick is to plan something that will tie into your products or services in some way.

For instance, a kitchen store could hold a cooking class and benefit from increased sales of the products used in the class. A yoga studio could hold a free class to encourage January signups—and offer gift certificates to encourage participants to spread the word.

Put your thinking cap on and ask yourself, “Why would I go to that (event)?” In other words, what’s the benefit to the customer? No benefit equals no turnout.

Use Email Campaigns

Social media is hot. But email is effective. Neil Patel, founder of QuickSprout, says that “in spite of social media's viral potential, email still wins as the most disruptive method to reach and woo your customers." He further points out that according to McKinsey, email marketing is three times more effective than social media, and the average customer order is 17% higher.

Hopefully you’ve already got an email newsletter going out. It’s an ideal spot to promote the products or services you’re featuring over the Christmas season and spread the word about any sales or events you’re having.

But don’t be afraid to send out separate emails as part of a marketing campaign either. Try one bargain a day in a daily email, for example.

Whatever email you send out to customers, be sure to court them personally. Besides being sure to use the recipient's first name in the subject line (which increases the click-through rate), you could send customers special offers just for them, buy-one-get-one-free deals not available to the general public, and more. The message is, "You're special," which is a hard message to resist.

Create an Attractive Window Display

Take advantage of the extra foot traffic around your retail store during the holiday season by using an eye-catching, foot-stopping Christmas window display.

Incorporating your products into your display is great if you can manage it, but what’s nice about a Christmas window display is that you don’t have to. A totally Christmas-themed display can work just as well. You just need something unique that’s going to catch the eye. Incorporating some kind of movement, such as a train circling a track, is a great way to draw a crowd.

Most important of all is to work your crowd. A bunch of people standing around watching a train go around or admiring your gorgeous arrangement of ornaments does nothing for your business. You have to bring them into your store. Try offering visitors a free hot drink and a cookie—a seasonal treat that's irresistible to most.

Use Proximity Marketing

Many shoppers are glued to their phones to the point that they might walk right by your store without seeing it.

But by using proximity marketing tools, such as iBeacon or Smart Antenna, that broadcast your targeted message to phones within a certain distance of your store, you can entice those shoppers in with personalized offers to encourage them to buy more.

Smart Antenna is especially appealing because it operates through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and doesn’t require potential customers to download an app as iBeacon does.

Invite Them and They Will Come

Customers are inundated with promotional messages and event invites during the holidays. Retailers have to find a way to grab their attention, even for a moment. These five techniques will help you cut through the noise.

But remember; whatever you do to create your own Christmas retail rush, you have to get the word out to your target market about what you’re doing. Send out that email, place those ads, use social media. Don’t let this Christmas season be a retail nonevent for your business because you didn’t invite your customers to your store.