In Canada, as in many other countries that aren’t close to the equator, the days of winter are dark late in the morning and dark early in the evening. Along with blustery cold winds, snow, and sometimes icy roads to ride on to the stores it makes Holiday Cheer harder to believe in.
This time of year, when the retailers are geared up for their best sales ever, including at least one Black Friday, there are issues that don’t come any other time of year. While the darkness of the days and the low sun in the sky may motivate shoppers to stay in side and shop on line, sooner or later they remember something they need and will rush out to shop.
Your store can light the way with a great invitation to come into your store for Holiday Cheer.
All the traditional trappings and symbols of Christmas are what shoppers love to encounter. As much as you can place things like:
1. Wreaths on your door or in your windows extra large so they can be seen at a distance.
2. Pots with twigs or evergreen each side of the entrance to your store.
3. Twinkle lights anywhere, especially if they are twinkling as this will catch the most attention from a distance.
4. OPEN sign and Holiday Hours of operation.
5. SIGNS… either sandwich board signs on the sidewalk, if you are allowed or signs inside your windows to tell shoppers what you offer for the season:
a. Inform ( FREE Gift Wrapping – Hot Chocolate While You Wait)
b. Direct (MORE parking one block North)
c. Promote ( Two for One on XCYZ until end of year!)
6. Light! Step outside in the dark evening hours and see the effects of the lighting in your store. The darker it is outside, the more can be seen inside when going by.
What impression and invitation is your store giving?
Is your eye jumping to a bright fluorescent light and not appreciating all the displays and products on fixtures? Make baffles for those lights! It can be as simple as taping a ‘valance’ made out of cardboard around the light to keep the glare from the shopper’s eyes!
INSIDE HOLIDAY CHEER
The atmosphere you create inside the store that begins with the music, and fragrance that is a delicate cranberry, cinnamon, or evergreen, aids in creating the holiday cheer.
Providing a place for shoppers to hang their bulky winter coats, gloves, and scarves and other parcels they have accumulated along your street is the BEST way to cheer up a shopper and keep them in your store longer! This has to be a place behind your till where they feel they will be safe.
If your store is large enough for a few mini shopping carts, you can offer these to the shopper so they can remove their outerwear and also have a safe place to carry their other packages and handbags. Most shoppers stop once they have all they can carry and they need both hands free in your store to handle and inspect the details of your products. Make is super easy for them.
Gift wrapping, or even offering nice gift bags, tissue and seals is also something that will offer Holiday Cheer to the busy, time crunched shopper. You can charge a small fee that would cover your costs, or offer it FREE if it’s in your advertising PR budget to do so.
Having a comfortable place to sit down, even a stool by the till, is a way to let a weary shopper feel refreshed and renewed to keep shopping. Offering hot chocolate, apple cider, coffee and even non-sticky cookies, or mints, is another way to create some holiday cheer. They may not accept for various reasons, but they will appreciate the gesture.
Charity Donation Box: Sometimes if they don’t see anything in your store that appeals to them, but they feel favor towards you because of your disposition, positive attitudes, and friendliness, they may leave a small donation for a charity the community supports. This adds a lot of holiday cheer to the Christmas Spirit of giving.
Last but not least is the Holiday Cheer that comes from YOU and YOUR STAFF! Your smiles, your graciousness, your willingness to help them find the perfect gifts in their budget, AND explain product knowledge, as well as, your return policy will have a lot of profit well into the New Year and beyond!
Shoppers coming into the mall or the store with wet boots and melting snow mixed with gravel, sand, or salt can cause huge issues in the entrance to your store. It’s important to have a plan and the proper floor mats for dealing with this so that you and your staff aren’t stressed and the shoppers feel at home and comfortable.
Extra long, absorbent, and water-proof mats are required from your front door clear into the main aisles so no one will slip or fall when they finally step off the mat onto a hard surface floor. Most people will wipe their boots once they come in and don’t feel it’s a waist so have a good rubber backed matt just outside your door.
You may have to use a broom instead of a shovel on the sidewalk, but it will keep a lot of gravel, sand, and salt out of your store. Canadian Tire and Home Depot (flanges on edges prevent curling and tripping) Walmart and WeatherTech OutdoorMat™ for Home and Business
Many Big Box Home Décor and Building supply stores the best mats on the market, and some are available as runners, so you can have the exact lengths cut to fit your aisles and traffic patterns. This is especially necessary if you have commercial carpet in your store to prevent soiling and fibre breakdown from salt and sand.
Renting mats. These are the issues.
This is the most concerning issue when you want your store looking it’s best at the highest shopping season of the year.
First know that in countries where this is an issue, people get used to it and overlook the necessary ‘evils’ of soaking mats. Most of them appreciate that you are doing your best to keep them safe. They are also glad you provide a place for them to wipe their feet and leave the worst water, gravel, sand and salt behind as they continue to shop.
Tips and Tricks:
1. Line up the rubber backed mud mats to fit with your fixture placement and traffic pattern, so the store still looks good and has a feeling of being organized.
2. Consider area rugs made of synthetic and natural materials that are easy to clean, inexpensive, and that fit in with the image and color, pattern, and style of your business. If these are placed over a hard surface floor that won’t be damaged from water, like ceramic tile, then you don’t have to put a rubber piece under them.
3. Place a nice wide runner just outside your entrance on the sidewalk with planters and winter twigs, or evergreen trees in them and keep it swept of snow and sand regularly to
a. give the shoppers a place to wipe their feet before they come in.
b. make them feel more at home and comfortable coming into your store with wet or salty soles!
c. cheer them up and keep them in the mood for holiday shopping.
4. Place a room by the door on the inside where you and your staff can easily and quickly keep the outdoor mat swept. NOTE: Pick a broom that is the color, pattern, and style to suit your business image so it will look perfectly at home on display!
5. Have extra area rug and mats where shoppers sit to rest, and definitely a boot tray just outside the door of a dressing room so there is a designated spot for the shoppers to put their footwear that they can SEE!
These are some of the ideas that I have recommended and seen used by my retail clients over the years and where I choose to shop as a consumer. The messes at the entrances to shopping centres and independent stores have never kept people in the Northern winter climates from shopping!
But it’s up to you, the owner or manager, to make it a safe and pleasant experience so your sales and profits are black all year round! Rainy days in the summer can also cause the same issues so you can always be prepared and ready.
LEST WE FORGET...
VMP Display Consultant for 25 years. Consulting, Instructing, Public Speaking and Writing.