The pressure is on for retail. The evidence is everywhere – from early advertising to aisles full of holiday trimmings in stores as early as Halloween. Retail is fighting to survive and particularly small retailers.
Concerns are heightened this year for several reasons. First, the record number of retail closings so far this year, (7,066) which has blanketed the news. And secondly, the shortened holiday shopping season. There are 6 fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, including one less weekend. To add to that, the potential for a weather event, like a snow or ice storm, could dramatically impact sales.
Historically, the holiday shopping season began on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and extended until Christmas. But now, “holiday creep,” the earlier and earlier holiday season, has become the norm. To remain competitive, retailers must not only advertise earlier but also adopt nearly every trick to gain an edge.
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How are Most Retailers Trying to Gain an Edge?
- Starting the holiday season earlier than ever (before Halloween)
- Free shipping
- Fast shipping
- Exclusive products
- Gift guides
- Drive-up service
- Waived membership fees to access free shipping
What About the Small Retailer?
Retailers most sensitive to this holiday rush are the small retailers. They are feeling the impact of trade tariffs (forcing an increased price on consumer goods), as well as a low unemployment rate, making it more difficult to find qualified labor. Finally, they don’t have the means to compete across multiple channels or pile on the costly service offerings of some big-box retailers.
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What is the Small Retailer to do?
Small retailers have advantages too that they can capitalize on this holiday season. For many, gift-giving is a personal, well-thought-through exercise. Giving the perfect gift is important. Here are some things small retailers can do to get ahead this holiday season amongst all the clutter – aside from offering a great product and awesome customer service:
- Advertise to the last-minute shoppers and those who hate the crowds
- Emphasize the uniqueness of the store
- Personalization – home town friendliness goes a long way
- Create a welcoming atmosphere in your retail space that makes shopping an experience
- Expertise – people love it when they can actually talk to someone who knows their stuff!
- Be an active member of the community, always
- Participate in mobile marketing – the open rate for text messages is significantly higher than email, so stand out
Despite all the concerns in the retail space, eMarketing is forecasting the first-ever in history trillion-dollar holiday season. What will be the big take-aways from this year that can help retailers in the future?
Check out our next blog on how landlords are dealing with the concerns around retail space.