Five Tips for Turning Picky Holiday Shoppers Into Buyers As fewer shoppers may visit stores this holiday season, you'll have to get more of them to buy to see sales grow. Here are some tips.

By Carol Tice

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Five Tips for Turning Picky Holiday Shoppers Into BuyersYou may not want to think about the holiday season before Halloween, but for retailers it's inevitable. Often, merchandise needs to be ordered now to be in stores for December. The trick is figuring out how much to order so far ahead, especially with the economy stuck in sleep mode.

If you order too much, you're stuck with pitching money-losing closeouts in January. If you don't order enough, you could miss sales.

For what it's worth in our fast-changing economic scene, the holiday shopping forecasts are in, and they're pretty gloomy. If you thought last year was challenging, an even tougher season looms ahead.

Just how bad it will be depends on who you ask. A recent Gallup poll found shoppers wouldn't spend more this holiday season compared with last year's holiday haul. The National Retail Federation expects 2.8 percent sales growth, which is down from last year's relatively anemic 4 percent growth.

Perhaps the key figure is from ShopperTrak, which measures retail foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores. They're expecting holiday sales to rise 3 percent -- but foot traffic will be down 2.2 percent. Translation: There will actually be fewer shoppers visiting stores in November and December, and, as a result, you'll have to get more of them to buy to see your sales grow.

How can you turn up sales in a down year? Here are five tips:

  1. "Flash" sales. Get customers in with one-night-only or other short-term events.
  2. Private sales. Reward your best customers by offering an event with special merchandise only for them.
  3. Work with merchants. An increasing number will work with you to ship goods closer to holiday time. Find out now what flexibility they have and how fast they could get you a last-minute order if you have an unexpected sellout. Also, see if your vendors have any unusual or exclusive merchandise you could add to your stock to drive interest.
  4. Collaborate. Create a package deal offer with other local merchants to bring more shoppers to your area.
  5. Up your 'wow' factor. What could you do to surprise and delight customers and make your store a holiday destination? Take a page from drugstore chain Duane Read, which recently unveiled a new prototype in which a holographic "virtual assistant" greets you at the door. Even without that sort of budget, you can create a special experience that makes customers want to shop at your store every holiday season. Serve appetizers and hire a band, have a bingo night and give out prizes -- let your imagination run wild.

What will you do to drive more holiday sales? Leave a comment and let us know.

Carol Tice

Owner of Make a Living Writing

Longtime Seattle business writer Carol Tice has written for Entrepreneur, Forbes, Delta Sky and many more. She writes the award-winning Make a Living Writing blog. Her new ebook for Oberlo is Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics


Franchise vs. Independent Business? 12 Experts Weigh the Options

Is franchising right for you? These industry pros discuss the proven benefits of joining an established brand instead of starting a concept from scratch.


How Small And Medium Businesses Can Save Money and Increase Productivity With The Cloud

By investing in the cloud, small to medium sized businesses can achieve the same kinds of success that enterprise-level organizations do — without an enterprise-level budget.


How to Strategically Preserve and Evolve Workplace Culture Amidst Change Management

When handled in a thoughtful, intentional manner, cultures no longer impede but serve to accelerate change management and drive results across enterprises.

Growing a Business

How to Build an Advisory Board That Drives Startup Success

Here's what startup founders must consider when crafting an advisory board.

Side Hustle

This Millennial Dad Just Wanted to Help His Daughter Care for Her Bearded Dragon. Then His Cricket-Breeding Side Hustle Exploded — Earning $27,000 in One Month.

It wasn't Jeff Neal's first attempt at a side gig, and before long, the "prototypical millennial side-hustler" realized his product had major potential.