Is it harder to transition from summer to autumn or from autumn to winter? Psychologically, it’s probably the former – you have to tuck away the bathing suit and pull the sweaters out of the mothballs. Once winter comes around though, the sweaters have become comfy and cozy and you tend not to see the difference between wearing two layers or three. But for the retailer, it can often be the transition from autumn to winter that can be a little confusing. When exactly are you supposed to switch out the red and yellow leaves for the white and glittering snowflakes? How much of your inventory will carry over into the next season? How much do you focus on Christmas?
When summer is over, you switch out large swaths of clothing merchandise, exchanging warm-weather clothes for long sleeves, hats and scarves. When autumn is over, you have to be a little more choosy.
When does the holiday season begin?
Chances are you began transitioning your store into Autumn Mode around the end of August. According to GQ magazine, some of the biggest brands, including those based out of Los Angeles, start moving in the jackets and sweaters before temperatures drop. This gives shoppers ample time to plan their fall and winter wardrobe. But when it comes to the holiday season, the time of year when you change displays will depend upon a number of factors. If your store does a lot of business selling back-to-school items or merchandise meant specifically for the autumn, you’ll probably wait until mid-November before getting out the Christmas decorations. If you can’t wait to get your customers in the mood for the snowy season, then you may have made the switch as soon as October was over.
If you haven’t begun changing your store over by Thanksgiving, you’ll be a little behind most of your competitors. But never fear, because we’ve got you covered for all your retail display and gift wrapping needs. We have gift boxes in any size you could need – but what will you fill them with?
There are a few obvious differences between holiday gift buying and that which people do at other times of the year. In any other season, the average gift buyer is only looking for something special for one or two people. For Christmas, the gift-giving spirit is much more generous. Shoppers are looking for items for their parents, their children, their friends and their coworkers.
When it comes to buying gifts for mom and dad, there are a few staples that never go out of fashion. For dad, there’s the yearly pair of comfy slippers, the new addition to his tie collection and the slim vial of cologne. For mom, traditional gifts include jewelry, scarves, handbags and lotions. Both AskMen and Country Living magazines confirm that these yearly sellers are still sure bets. Even if these items are not normally a part of your store’s repertoire, consider stocking them near the front of your store. It’s a great place to display gifts, especially for those customers that are in a rush or simply want to get their shopping over with as quickly as possible. Any of our display tables and bases would be perfect for these gift arrangements.
Christmas is one of the few times of the year when shoppers will be looking for gifts for their coworkers. They may not know their coworkers intimately, or they could be buying items for a white elephant gift swap. This means that the items will be a little less personal and a little more generic. But that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. There are many fun items you can sell that are great for office gift exchanges. Marie Claire magazine suggested getting some unique things that can be used around the office such as notebooks, desk organizers, USB sticks and, of course, candy. Little items like these are great impulse buys that can be placed up near the checkout lines.
Gifts for children can be a little trickier if you don’t normally sell toys or electronics. As for clothing merchandise, there are a lot of fun seasonal looks for babies, toddlers and older kids. Even if they’re not gifts, selling some semi-formal dresses and sweaters is a great idea, because many children will need something nice to wear to church or to grandma’s house for Christmas dinner. Seasonal clothing really stands out on our flexible kid mannequins. Otherwise, you can apply the same impulse-buy principles as above – stock a few small puzzles or toys near the register or near the children’s clothing section.
Gift wrapping is what will set your store apart from the competition. It’s what makes the boutique shopping experience better than going to a big box store and receiving impersonal service. By offering a gift wrapping service, you’re not only saving the customer time, you’re adding value to your brand. According to Consumer Reports, there’s something to say for providing this service for free. By not charging for gift wrapping, the customer sees it as a huge advantage over other stores. Our high-quality wrapping paper is affordable, so adding a wrapping option won’t hurt your budget.
“To charge for it, your gift wrapping must look professional.”
Of course there’s also something to say for charging for this service, and it will depend on few important factors. How much time will it take, for instance? If you’re offering on-the-spot wrapping services with a lot of bells and whistles, it’s perfectly acceptable to charge for the service. Just keep in mind that your wrapping job, complete with decorative bows and ribbons, should look professional. In order for the customer to put up the money for gift wrapping, it needs to be worth the price. Have a few training sessions to ensure your staff are wrapping professionals before Christmas rush hits.
Keep these simple tips in mind and you’re sure to have a great Christmas shopping season. And check back with us throughout the next few weeks for more insightful tips on how to survive and thrive in the busy months ahead.