7 Surefire Ways to Increase Sales This Holiday Season

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Reviewed by Matt Pelkey
• 8 minute read
Small business owner wrapping holiday packages

The holiday season can bring a big surge in retail sales. But this revenue boost can come with challenges as well. Small business owners have to manage increased sales volume, deal with more customers, and handle increased work hours and labor expenses. With more sales comes more customers needing assistance, more support tickets, more shipping orders, and more exchanges and returns.

This can leave small businesses short on staff, low on inventory and feeling like they’re missing out on a big opportunity. Let’s explore some ways you can prepare to take full advantage of the holiday shopping season.

1. Predict Your Sales Activity

Having an idea of how holiday sales will impact your business is a good first step. You can use data from past years to make an informed estimate and project what your sales will look like (rather than just guessing).

You’ll need a system to record your sales data. This can be done manually in a spreadsheet or with apps designed for business intelligence analytics. Some of these apps even integrate with your point-of-sale and accounting software so sales and inventory get automatically updated when you make a sale.

This data can help you make informed decisions about staffing and inventory needs. You can look at data from past years and calculate your year-over-year growth to project how the upcoming holidays will compare to last year.

2. Plan For Increased Staffing and Inventory Needs

Your sales projection should help you plan how many seasonal employees you’ll need to hire and how much you’ll need to increase your inventory. You can look at past holiday sales to predict which items will be the most popular.

You can also use your sales projections to estimate how many additional hours of labor you’ll need to manage the additional holiday orders. Look at how many hours you normally spend to handle sales, then use your holiday sales projection to estimate how many additional hours you’ll need for the holidays. This should give you a sense of how many extra hands you need to hire.

Ordering extra inventory and hiring more people can disrupt your cash flow. For example, stocking up inventory for Black Friday can leave you low on cash. You can do a cash flow analysis to predict if you’ll be tight on cash over the holidays. If you are, you can look into short-term financing options like small business term loans or small business lines of credit.

3. Plan a Seasonal Sale

The holiday shopping season kicks off with a few days dedicated to big sales — Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. But you don’t have to stick to the big three days if you don’t want to.

Having a sale is a great way to draw in holiday shoppers. Be sure to think about what kind of holiday promotions will matter to your target audience. It could be a percentage discount, a special bundle deal, a buy-one-get-one offer or a free holiday gift with purchases of a certain amount. If you’re looking to attract new customers and grow your customer base this holiday season, consider offering referral incentives such as a gift card or discount.

You can customize your sale to make it stand out. Consider a holiday-themed promotion such as “12 Days of Christmas” or a “New Year’s Countdown” where each day offers a new deal. You could also reward your most loyal customers by offering them early access or additional discounts. A well-planned sale can boost e-commerce sales, in-store foot traffic and more.

4. Decorate or Host a Special Holiday Event

A great way to attract customers is to make your store look festive or to host a special event. A fun atmosphere can improve customer experience. You can do things like host workshops, offer gift-wrapping services, or allow a local artist to set up a pop-up shop in your store. If you run an online store, you can create a guide with different gift ideas available in your online store. You can also create holiday landing pages to promote holiday deals.

5. Promote Your Business

Without a holiday marketing campaign, potential customers won’t know about any of the deals and events you’re offering. Here are few different marketing strategies you can try:

Social media marketing. Promote your holiday offerings, share festive content and interact directly with customers through social media marketing. You can create your own hashtags, work with influencers and even do special promotions like giveaways to boost engagement.

Email marketing. Email marketing is a powerful tool. Create an email campaign to inform customers on your email list about holiday sales, events and exclusive offers. E-commerce businesses can create a sense of urgency by including time limits such as “Today only, get 10% off!” This can help improve conversion rates and boost sales.

Local marketing. Local marketing can be impactful for small businesses. Consider taking out an ad in the local newspaper or on the radio. This can help drive foot traffic to your store — especially the customers who prefer to shop locally.

6. Make the Most of Downtime

Although the holiday season can be hectic, some days will be busier than others. Take advantage of the lulls by using downtime for the tasks that need to be done. These can include:

  • Taking year-end inventory counts.
  • Processing shipping and receiving orders.
  • Stocking shelves.
  • Processing returns.
  • Bookkeeping tasks.

Getting these tasks out of the way will help you keep up with everything that needs to be done and avoid getting overwhelmed.

7. Keep Your Holiday Season Manageable

The holidays don’t have to be a headache if you plan ahead. Use your data to predict sales activity and adjust your hiring and inventory accordingly. Be sure to factor in the surge from any holiday campaigns, events or sales. Don’t try to do everything at once, pick a few things that work for your business. You can try new things each holiday season as your business grows.

See How Other Business Owners Handle the Holidays

As a watersports based business we already have an uphill battle during the cooler holiday season but we’ve found a few things that help us with sales.

We like to publish and/or email out gift guides, articles or emails with a list of accessories or reasonably priced boards. We find gifts in the $50-$400 range are typically purchased, rather than the more expensive board packages.

Julian Kidd, CEO
Green Water Sports

We have a small family owned jewelry business. One of the best strategies we have had for increasing sales is through live Youtube shopping shows. Each season we post 3-4 live shopping shows for our subscribers and customers. This allows them to see all our newest items without even leaving their home. We normally see about 2,000 viewers each show and it can sometimes account for 20% of our sales that month. No fancy equipment meaning any small business owner can do the same.

Jeffrey Michael, Marketing Manager
Moriarty’s Gem Art

As the owner of a bed bug extermination business, the winter months can definitely be slower and it’s super important to strategize accordingly. I try to use FOMO to my advantage, especially during the slower, colder months when bed bug concerns might not be top-of-mind for customers. Instead of waiting for infestations to occur, we shift the focus to prevention and create a sense of urgency, often offering prices that are lower than during peak bed bug season.

We begin by distributing eye-catching printed materials, such as flyers and brochures, in strategic locations where our target audience frequents. We emphasize the limited-time holiday promotions in the educational flyers, making sure the messaging is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Additionally, we leverage local partnerships to enhance our reach. We work with neighborhood businesses, like community centers, local stores, or even schools, to display our informative materials and offer exclusive deals to their customers. We also go out of our way to stimulate word of mouth because it is a powerful tool, so we always try to take the extra time to encourage satisfied customers to share their positive experiences with
friends, family, and neighbors.

We are currently considering hosting a small-scale community event to educate residents about bed bug prevention during the holiday season. These events not only provide valuable information but also create a buzz within
the community.

Allan Bossel, Owner
Michigan BBS

Firstly, understanding your customer base is key. At Midwest Cards, we focus on four buyer personas – the Investor, the Collector, the Gifter, and the Thrill Seeker. Tailoring your approach to the specific needs and interests of your
customer segments can significantly boost sales.

Secondly, leveraging digital marketing is essential. We use a mix of Google and Bing Shopping Ads, email marketing, and social media platforms to engage our customers. Personalizing your email campaigns based on customer interests and buying patterns, as we do, can be particularly effective.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of SMS marketing. Thirdly, a well-structured loyalty program can work wonders. Our loyalty program has been instrumental in customer retention and satisfaction, leading to over 1000 5-star Google reviews. Offering special holiday discounts or bonus points can encourage repeat business and attract new customers.

Additionally, we focus on SEO to improve our online visibility, especially during the holiday season. A user-friendly website with fast loading times, coupled with engaging content, can attract more visitors and potential

Lastly, don’t forget the human touch. Even in this digital age, personal interactions and excellent customer service make a big difference. We host an annual Christmas party, which is not just a celebration but also a way to connect with our customers and community.

In summary, understanding your customers, utilizing digital marketing effectively, implementing a strong loyalty program, optimizing your website for SEO, and maintaining personal customer interactions are key strategies
to boost holiday sales.

Jim Christy, Owner
Midwest Cards

This content is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as financial, investment or legal advice.

Article Contributors

Julian Kidd, CEO

I have been an avid stand up paddle boarder since 2009. I retired from a decade of professional kiteboarding to focus on SUP. Green Water Sports grew from this love of all things SUP. As well as being a keen paddle boarder, I'm a football fan, closet petrol head, web tinkerer, husband and father.

Jeffrey Michael, Marketing Manager

Jeffrey Michael has been in the marketing industry for over 20 years. He also is part of a family owned jewelry company that has been in business for all four decades.

Allan Bossel, Owner

Allan Bossel, Owner and Operator of Michigan Bed Bug Specialists (https://michiganbbs.com) has over a decade of insect and pest control experience, with a background in professional pest extermination and lab work. In addition to his skill set in operating state-of-the-art pest control machinery, Allan is licensed by the State of Michigan as a commercial pesticide applicator in general insect control and mosquitoes and has received thorough continued training in his field.

Jim Christy, Owner

Midwest Cards brings a modern approach to trading cards. As fellow-trading card collectors and investors ourselves, we created Midwest Cards to make the hobby more exciting, inclusive, and informative.