Well, another holiday shopping season has come and gone. We won’t know exactly how big it was until market researchers like ShopperTrak release estimates and the Commerce Department issues a comprehensive tally. But the National Retail Federation predicted retail sales would be up about 4% year-over-year. If those predictions prove correct, that would mean we hit about $682 billion, up from $655 billion the year prior.
The holidays are actually tailor-made for small businesses. After all, this is the time of year when purchase-driven customers seek out new stores. So if you can give them a good experience during the holiday season, you’ll stand a good chance of them boomeranging back in the future.
“Independent retailers who’ve had a successful holiday season recognize that there are strengths in not being huge,” reports CBS News. “They’re able to change pricing and other strategies quickly. They can offer customers more personal service and a warmer atmosphere.”
CBS News reported that many small businesses successfully leveraged their brick-and-mortar locations as a way to lure away customers from the Amazons of the world. For example, some offered chocolate chip cookies and hot cocoa, or arranged for visitors to get their photo with Santa. It’s all part of the “appeal comes from the fact that it’s not one of the big-box stores.”
One of the best ways to promote holiday shopping is through Facebook ads, which are ridiculously inexpensive. Despite the low price tag, these ads are so targeted that you can dial in on your audience.
“We literally spent $20 a week on five different ads, picked one or two that worked, and the next week spent $30 on five different ads with that image,” one entrepreneur told CBS News.
If you’re curious just how targeted Facebook ads really are, check out your own profile. Go to your Facebook account, click on “Settings,” then go down to where it says “Ads.” Once there, select “Your information” and click “Your categories.” Ta-da! You’ve just gotten a glimpse of the data Facebook has been compiling on you all these years.
One thing to note as you prepare for future holiday initiatives is that holiday shoppers are hitting the pavement earlier and earlier these days. In fact, Google data shows that 30% of them will start buying holiday gifts before they even attend a single Halloween party. About 10% of them are even starting before Labor Day. Smart businesses get a leg up on the competition by having their promotions ready well before November comes around.