Originally posted to the Arc Worldwide blog in the December 2019 edition of The Marcket
The holidays—it’s the most wonderful time of the year for gift-wishing children and gift-stocking retailers alike. While many people go online to make holiday purchases, 53% of all shoppers still plan to visit a mass merchant to buy their gifts this year. So, what is it that keeps holiday shoppers coming to stores, and what do they most want out of the experience to keep the good cheer going? Retailers have been gearing up for the holidays in new ways each year—all with the goal of keeping shopping fun, checkout lanes efficient and gift-givers jolly all season long.
NORTH POLE GREETINGS (Store Décor & Merchandising)
A little seasonal dressing can do wonders to infuse the holiday spirit. Signage is an instant signifier to shoppers that the holidays have arrived and that stores are ready to help them find everything on their lists. In-store seasonal thematics also set the stage for visual storytelling — serving up vignettes that delight and inspire shoppers with gift ideas. Aside from hanging signs, retailers are finding ways for the holidays to show up in a bigger way. This year, Macy’s is leveraging their new 36-store pop-in model with Story to present “Home for the Holidays,” a one-stop shop-in-shop destination for everyone on your holiday list.
AN ARMY OF ELVES (Seasonal Associates)
Once the tinsel and garland is hung, stores are set to welcome a serious spike in shoppers — in 2018, the 10 busiest shopping days of the year fell between Thanksgiving and Christmas. To manage this holiday traffic boom, many retailers choose to add more associates in store. Target is staffing up big-time and planned to hire nearly 130,000 more team members for the 2019 season across over 1,800 stores [KK1] with a focus on “bringing guests ease, convenience and inspiration as they shop.” And many of these roles will also be devoted to fulfilling orders via their popular “Order Pickup” and “Drive Up” same-day services.
HOLIDAY HOSTING (Events)
Walmart has also upped the roles of existing associates—with some donning the role of “Holiday Helper”—to move beyond mere customer service and offer more of a concierge service. Not only do these employees scour the store to find forgotten items, open checkout lines and provide advice throughout departments, they also play host for special events and parties in-store. These events include product demos and samplings to help shoppers get inspired and discover the perfect gift, movie viewings of franchise hits like Pokémon and Star Wars to capture consumer attention, and perhaps the greatest draw of all, visits with Santa—a nationwide event in all Walmart stores on Dec. 7.
LAST-MINUTE DASHING (Extended Hours)
Many retail stores have taken on the faithful tradition of staying open late on Christmas Eve to accommodate any last-minute needs. It’s an apt adaption to Christmas shoppers’ buying habits, as 7% of people wait until the day before Christmas to do their shopping. Kohl’s has been known as a leader in this arena, in 2018 staying open for 24 hours daily from Dec. 21 until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, with in-store pickup offered until 3 p.m. And now that Kohl’s is an official “Amazon returns hotspot,” they’re bound to capture some post-holiday return traffic as well.