How to: Boost Holiday Sales and Profits

With U.S. sales of specialty food up 22% in 2014 to $109 billion, retailers are adjusting their holiday programs to include strong seasonal specialty/natural items. Building specialty off shelf displays as incremental profit centers has become increasingly popular and differentiates retailers. The holiday season is the single largest sales opportunity of the year and successful retailers are using innovative techniques to engage consumers and build loyalties that prove prosperous year round.

The average American household spends $94.04 on holiday candy and sweets every year with 1.8 billion candy canes and 19 million chocolate Santa’s sold. However, shoppers today demand much more than the classic holiday items or merchandising when doing their holiday shopping. The holidays have transformed into an interactive shopping experience that is inventive, stimulating, fun and convenient.

With proper planning and creative promotions you can maximize holiday sales with fewer problems. “Buying for the holiday season may already be set, but there is always opportunity to be creative with displays and promotional tie-ins as the season approaches,” says Neil Stern, senior partner, McMillan Doolittle LLP.

Four key principles apply:

  • Engage shoppers with seasonal specialty/natural merchandising early in their shopping pattern. Connie Cheng, executive director-shopper practice, Nielsen, notes “Eight in every 10 supermarket shoppers buy an impulse item from within the store, one in three purchase impulse categories from front-of-store, and one in five baskets contain an impulse purchase.” Feature “Easy Gift” front end sets that include truffles, gift packages & boxed chocolate. Offer high end stocking stuffer sets in your foyer that include maple candy, marzipan, torrone, candy canes, chocolate Santa’s and lollipops to create holiday spirit and set the tone for the shoppers experience.
  • Build cohesive themed displays. Construct themes that create experiences. Consumers seek solutions and buy more collectively than when items are spread out in different places. Build a holiday cookie destination with the top five sellers of the season; Sugar cookies, Gingerbread cookies, Butter cookies, Shortbread cookies and Ginger snaps.
  • Inject both surprise and continuity to create urgencies to buy. Build demand by creating promotions that alerts shoppers of a limited timeline to purchase product at a desired price. Also, grouping promotions can be very effective. For example, if a shopper spends $200 in a single visit they get a percentage off a seasonal purchase. Shoppers that are close may step it up and spend the extra $10-$15 to get the deal.
  • Utilize a 4th quarter Ad program with popular holiday themes creates excitement and drives shoppers to your store. Promote Holiday Cooking items and direct shoppers to grab-and-go holiday meal end caps that include stuffing, olive oils, stocks and brining kits. Make Holiday Entertaining a focus on the front of your holiday circular. Create an “easy appetizer” section that includes salami, pastry tarts and olives and provide party recipe ideas for shoppers located near entertaining ingredients. Offer combined savings on Holiday Baking items that go together to make holiday desserts, cakes and cookies. Huge payoffs can also come from blending these seasonal themes into your store’s year-round culture and executing it well.

Leading retailers find creative ways to engage the consumer including store announcements with creative recipe ideas, in-store food education events, coupon offers via social media, and themed seasonal food samplings. Simplify the shopping and meal preparation experience to give shoppers the confidence that they can serve their combination of specialty items successfully.

Finally, make sure to plan for that last minute rush. The last two weeks prior to Christmas will be your busiest time, when you’ll bring in a significant portion of your holiday sales. Make sure to keep enough product on hand during this time or you’ll be sending your sales to competitors. If you don’t have it you can’t sell it.

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