The outlook is good for this retail holiday season. The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects 2018 retail sales to increase a minimum of 4.5% over 2017. Shoppers are optimistic and plunking down more cash across retail categories than they were last year or even the year before. In fact, the average annual increase for the last five years is 3.9 percent, according to the NRF. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is even more bullish on the 2018 holiday season, predicting that customers are planning to spend 5% more than last year, an average of $1,250 per person.
These are just a few predictions for this retail holiday season overall—but increased revenues isn’t a guarantee for every retailer. There are a few things you can do to make sure your business’ end-of-the-year performance is as good as or better than industry predictions. With all indicators pointing to shoppers who are ready and willing to spend this retail holiday season, make sure you’ve got the products people want and the service they expect.
1. Millennials will be your heavy spenders this year.
Millennials—people born between the years 1980 and 2000—are the largest generation. High- earners in this category (over $70,000 annually) are anticipated to spend more than $2,000 each this retail holiday season. Millennial customers are interested in socially and environmentally conscious brands, and health and wellness products. When catering to this customer category, don’t rely on cookie-cutter products and services — be prepared to deliver quality, convenience, and speed. Millennials aren’t sold on rock-bottom prices or free items; they care more about new experiences, lifestyle choices, and social awareness. Keep these things in mind to engage more customers and finish the year strong.
2. Don’t underestimate in-store shoppers this year
Brick-and-mortar department stores are estimated to get just as hard, if not harder than online locations. Brick-and-mortar locations should be prepared to handle a heavy influx of holiday traffic. Shoppers are going to be in stores a lot this year, so check and recheck stock levels and ensure you have everything on hand to deliver a smooth and positive customer experience to your holiday shoppers.
3. Don’t forget about POS/back office
Once the store is properly stocked, don’t forget about leveraging your point of sale (POS) system and optimizing back office operations. Your POS system gathers data, consumer insights and helps deliver exceptional customer service during the retail holiday season. These important data points can help you keep your store stocked with in-demand items and plan operations day-to-day, week-to-week, or even next season.
You can also use POS data to optimize labor scheduling so that there are enough well-trained associates to assist customers quickly across channels. Employees should be equipped with technology that is crucial for boosting customer experience, such as tablet/mobile POS.
Shoppers are feeling jolly this retail holiday season and they’re splashing out more cash than they have in recent memory. People are using every channel to make their purchases, so as we head into the home stretch of holiday shopping days, make sure your brick-and-mortar operations are well-staffed, running smoothly and have what people want. Your POS system and back-office functions will provide valuable insights and data to help you schedule, stock and plan effectively in the coming days, weeks and months.