- Online Black Friday sales have topped 2021 figures, earning more than $9 billion.
- Capitalizing on a robust holiday season can help businesses with their end-of-year sales while building a returning customer base.
- Areas such as inventory management and website optimization will be critical to ensuring increased sales.
- This guide is for businesses that are seeking ways to bolster their bottom line throughout the holiday season and beyond.
Predicting holiday sales patterns is challenging for any organization. Add a pandemic and high inflation to the mix, and things get even more unpredictable.
Early projections for the 2022 holiday sales season were pessimistic due to multiple factors, including inflation, inventory issues, and supply chain challenges. For example, an NPD Group study predicted that online sales would decline by up to 5 percent throughout the holiday season, and Adobe’s 2022 online shopping forecast predicted that online spending would grow by 2.5 percent, which would have been the smallest increase since Adobe began tracking in 2015.
However, sales have not been as bleak as these reports expected. In fact, after Black Friday, we’re seeing the strongest holiday sales since 2018.
Holiday sales trends for 2022
Consider the following 2022 sales trends:
- Black Friday online sales increased. Adobe Analytics reported that online sales for this year’s Black Friday were 2.3 percent higher than in 2021, with record online spending of $9.12 billion. Deep discounts on high-inventory items and financing options helped entice shoppers, while “online-only” deals encouraged people to stay home and get those web exclusives.
- In-store shopping increased. Consumers also visited stores in person for their holiday shopping, returning to pre-pandemic patterns. The National Retail Federation announced that more than 122.7 million people visited stores in person over Thanksgiving weekend, marking a 17 percent increase over 2021.
- Inventory management is crucial. For small businesses, utilizing effective inventory management is crucial to ensure sufficient quantities of bestsellers and to communicate to customers about the availability of items they want. With readily available items and plentiful discounts, it’s essential to catch consumers when they’re ready to buy.
Black Friday tech deals, smart home equipment, toys and exercise equipment were popular purchases from Black Friday through Cyber Monday.
Tips to boost holiday sales
Follow these tips to prepare your business for holiday sales and make the most of a potentially profitable season.
1. Set goals for your holiday sales.
It sounds basic, but it’s important to do research to understand trends and predictions in the market and to set achievable business goals. When looking at historical data, you should be able to spot trends and performance from previous years and use those to guide your goals. For 2022, shoppers understand that they can get good deals on items if they’re patient; while early sales encourage early spending, there are still opportunities to present consumers with discounts on excess inventory items.
Don’t forget that holiday sales aren’t only about discounts; they’re also about the opportunity for customers to get their items before they’re sold out.
2. Manage your inventory through the holidays.
As popular items are depleted throughout the season, shoppers seek retailers with available, ready-to-ship inventory. While supply chain management challenges have improved, they still exist, and discounts become less important to some shoppers when they’re securing items they want. It’s all about inventory management and being at the right place at the right time.
Managing your supply chain is still critical. However, with some planning, you can create a continuous flow of in-demand items. When you can offer an excellent customer experience that includes easy access to products and quick shipping, you can foster customer loyalty throughout the year.
Inventory management and profitability are even more critical for seasonal businesses that rely on the winter months for the bulk of their cash flow. It’s crucial to use the offseason to strategize, plan and communicate with customers.
3. Build a robust holiday marketing plan.
Create a holiday marketing plan with tailored messages that address your customers’ wants and needs, and then ensure you get sufficient exposure and optimal product positioning.
Once your holiday marketing plan is ready, get the word out about your seasonal products, deals, discounts and specials via the following channels:
- PR efforts: Use public relations efforts for news coverage if you have cultivated media relationships.
- Paid ads: Thoughtfully spend your marketing budget on effective channels, like Google Ads, and Facebook business tools, such as boosted posts and paid ads.
- Social media: Tailor your social media content strategy to promote your holiday sales. Encourage loyal customers to share your posts and spread the word via testimonials and positive online reviews. By interacting with customers directly, you also get a sense of current trends that you can promote while steering new customers toward your storefront.
4. Optimize your website for the holidays.
Online sales figures are promising, so ensure your website can keep up with the traffic and support your sales. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar business with a website or an exclusively e-commerce storefront, creating a seamless user experience can make a huge difference. Here are some tips to consider:
- Optimize your landing page. To support your marketing efforts, ensure your website landing page includes clear calls to action and employs user-experience best practices to make the page easy to read and navigate.
- Consider a website audit. A website audit can help you find ways to improve your search engine optimization by adding keywords, fixing broken links and finding ways to cross-promote items. As you update and refine your website, you’ll increase traffic, boost sales, and leave customers satisfied and ready to shop with you again.
Providing an excellent customer experience during the holidays helps foster improved customer retention for the rest of the year.
5. Track sales metrics to analyze your efforts.
Comprehensive metrics reporting is a crucial way to understand your holiday sales efforts. The data can clarify issues surrounding your finances, customers, website, social media presence and more. Financial tracking, for example, can help you monitor your cash flow, while sales analytics can inform future sales and marketing decisions.
Track and measure every customer interaction from all your efforts across the sales funnel, from social media interactions to the final sale. With consistent metrics tracking, you’ll gain a realistic, comprehensive view of your marketing efforts and sales performance.
Stride into the new year
While every holiday season comes with unique challenges for businesses, the data indicates that inflation and supply chain issues aren’t discouraging holiday spending. In-store foot traffic is strong, and online sales are growing year over year. Preparing a business for the holiday season is similar to building a sales campaign: With a little planning, the performance can lead a business into a strong new year.