We've all been there before: You've got plenty of time to get all your holiday shopping done, but you blink and it's mid-December, and your checklist is far from finished. As common as this scenario is, it's no wonder that nine out of the 10 busiest days for shopping come in the final month of the year. Last-minute holiday shopping is so common that it's become a business demographic all its own.
Small businesses can't afford to ignore the inevitable rush of last-minute shoppers. Here are five tips to help you capture that gift-buying rush.
1. Offer discounts and free shipping.
Offering discounts is naturally a great way to attract more business, and that's especially true for last-minute shoppers. But free shipping is what really counts for last-minute shoppers. In fact, according to Wordstream, 47 percent of shoppers don't want to pay for shipping.
Many shoppers will be looking to ship gifts in the last week before Christmas, and if they have a lot of names left on their list, shipping costs could add up. Offering to pick up that tab for them could differentiate you from competitors.
2. Sell gift cards.
Gift cards are always great stocking stuffers, card fillers or flexible gifts for shoppers who don't know exactly what to buy (a common cause of procrastination.) They're also quick and easy to buy, making them a choice last-minute gift.
It's no surprise, then, that the number of both physical and digital gift cards holiday shoppers purchased increases every year. Gift cards are so popular that through 2017, Americans spent about $150 billion on them. Last-minute holiday shoppers will be relieved to see you offer gift cards, and they might even buy several to cross off a few names on their list in one fell swoop.
3. Boost mobile and social advertising.
Mobile is becoming an increasingly prominent aspect of marketing. For the first time ever, mobile sales are expected to lead the pack. Salesforce estimates mobile will capture 68 percent of shoppers researching gifts. Mobile is also expected to drive 46 percent of all sales.
Naturally, it's a platform that should not be ignored. Now imagine you're a last-minute shopper hustling from store to store in search of gifts. You're even more likely to have your phone in your hand, swiping through potential options in a frenzy. Boosting mobile advertising late in the season will get your products in front of these ready-to-buy shoppers.
4. Host a holiday-themed event.
Events are a good way to attract more shoppers in general, and during the holidays, it's a smart way to bring in customers looking for specific holiday gifts.
Even something as simple as offering candies or hot chocolate at the front of your store could be enough to bring beleaguered last-minute shoppers through your doors. Promoting a holiday event of your own or sponsoring a local one nearby is a great way to capture the attention of people who still have holiday shopping to tackle.
5. Stay open later (during the day and through the season).
Last-minute shoppers tend to come by at, well, the last minute. Stay open later to give them some extra time to explore your selection. And it's not just extending your hours that can help boost sales; retailers that stay open after December 25th have a chance to do even more business.
After Christmas is when 5 percent of all holiday spending occurs, which is not an amount to thumb your nose at. Also, consider the crowds dealing with returns and exchanges; shepherding these shoppers through your doors can result in additional sales. Staying open through New Year's Eve can pay off big time.