Preparing for Christmas

With just over a week to go until Christmas, now is a good time for small business to review their Christmas Week plans and get organised for the retail rush expected in the UK high street and online.

The average household will spend just over £800 on Christmas this year, with 60% spent on gifts, 27% of spend on food and drink, and the remaining 13% on decorations and cards. With shops poised to deal with the bulk of the Christmas spending rush, retailers will need a plan in place to drive people through their doors and capture some of the final big spending flurry for themselves. If early December trading has been slow, there is still plenty of time to capitalise on the last-minute spending rush – the majority of Christmas sales and spending occur within the final week before Christmas.

Keep it simple

A huge amount of this year’s sales will take place online, and so businesses with an online presence will need to be poised to minimise the amount of baskets abandoned at checkout. Make sure you contact users who have abandoned baskets, perhaps offering free gift wrapping or a free delivery voucher – giving the customer a choice of vouchers will help to differentiate you from the competition and make customers feel more in control of the transaction.

In store it’s always nice to do something different and set yourself apart from other retailers – a small gift at the checkout can be a lovely surprise for a customer. Free gift wrapping, a pack of five Christmas cards or a roll of sellotape with every purchase can drive a lot of goodwill and it’s a great way to create a loyal customer who will come back in store for another visit in the New Year.

There is no doubt that retailers face heavy competition at Christmas but as it’s your busiest time of the year we would always recommend keeping discounts to a minimum. If you feel you need to discount, 5-10% plus great customer service should be enough to entice customers away from other stores.

Beating the January Blues

Once Christmas is over, customers often have limited budgets but are looking to cheer themselves up. It’s a great time to offer more significant discounts and also considering finding a non-competing business to partner with. For example, by spending a certain amount of money in store customers could get a free dessert at a restaurant in return.