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Product Knowledge
October/November 2010

10 tips to improve

Christmas sales

Xmas sales
The Christmas season is the most important season for retailers. It is not unusual for shops to increase monthly sales by 50%, or even 100%, during Christmas. It is therefore critically important for retailers to grab this opportunity and make the most of it. We have ten tips to help you do it.

Christmas decorations are often overlooked by retail stores in our industry, but they serve a very important purpose in any shop. They remind customers that it is the Christmas season and stir up positive childhood memories. So put up Christmas decorations. You might not have the big budget that some chain stores have, but do not miss out on creating a Christmas atmosphere … take a few boxes and wrap them in Christmas paper, or decorate walls and pillars with Christmas decorations and lights.


Get your store neat and clean and keep it that way. Nothing irritates customers more than a dirty or untidy store, and nobody can afford to lose any customers. Apart from the normal sweeping, vacuuming and dusting, keeping the shop clean and tidy throughout the day is the job of every assistant. Instil discipline personally and in all of your staff to quickly repack shelves, hang garments and remove hangers and empty packing material immediately the sale has been concluded. Make sure that they don’t keep boxes full of merchandise cluttering the floor when re-packing shelves, because your customers don’t want to negotiate an obstacle course to reach the shelves.

Don’t only look after the visible area in the shop. Also make sure the toilet area and dressing rooms are spotless. Inspect them regularly. It is often so tempting to store full or empty boxes in such an area. Rather find another place for them. If floor or ceiling tiles become permanently stained replace them instead of tolerating a dirty look. If signage becomes damaged replace or remove it. If light bulbs give up the ghost, replace them.


Consider your customers when you decide on in-store music. You might be a heavy metal fan, but rather be more conservative and go for more subdued music to create an ambience that most people will enjoy, and which will encourage them to visit and spend time in the store. Try and be original when choosing Christmas songs — some people have developed an aversion to Boney M, heard in every second store during this period.


Adapt your store layout to your target customers. If you are catering for older people make sure your aisles are uncluttered and a little wider than usual. If you are catering for children, place sweets or toys at their eye level in areas such as the aisles in front of the till, where they are forced to spend some time waiting.


Keep shelves and signage lower in the front and middle of the shop, rising gradually to the back and sides. This contributes to a neat and tidy look and good visibility discourages shoplifting. Use the walls to display relevant, but attractive murals or posters that will enhance the atmosphere and compliment the products on sale.


Grocery stores have been teaching us for many years to stock the items that they most want to sell at eye level. Experiment with putting the high price or margin items there. Occasionally, try putting a slow moving product at eye level as an experiment and see what happens.


Grocery stores have also taught us to put the cheaper everyday necessities, such as milk and bread, at the back and all the expensive items on the shelves along the way. Follow the same principle to put the cheaper, fast selling, necessities at the back, so that the customers must walk past all the other expensive and tempting items to reach it — twice, on the way there and on the way back!


Differentiate how you present products to men and women. It has been well documented that there are big differences between the way they shop. A man tends to visit a shop to buy a specific product, does so, and leaves immediately. Women take more time and tend to look at many other products, even try them on, while they are there.

Therefore, consider presenting men’s socks at the till where they will become an impulse buy. Men consider socks as a functional item that can be grabbed at the last minute. Women’s socks, on the other hand, should be displayed near to the pants and shirts as she will be inclined to spend as much time selecting the socks as she would selecting a shirt.

Keep in mind, however, that a man’s shopping habits seem to change when he is in a shop that sells the products he is passionate about. He won’t run into a sports store and grab the cricket bat closest to the door, or run into an outdoor store to buy the first GPS he can lay his hands on.


Get involved with a local charity your customers can identify with — charity begins at home. Put up promotional material and photographs to give publicity to them. Encourage customers to buy Christmas presents for the beneficiaries of the charity and collect it in a decorated bin.


Look after your staff, reward them well and make it fun to work with you. Over the Christmas period you are likely to employ additional temporary staff. Make them feel at home and don’t exploit them. It will be a good opportunity to watch them and offer permanent employment to the good ones. Buy them a Christmas present out of your own pocket. The Christmas holiday period traditionally offers retailers a time where consumers are more willing to spend money on gifts. We asked suppliers what they have to offer specifically for this time of year.

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