Five steps to increase Christmas footfall

Christmas presents a unique opportunity for retailers. Many rely on the festive period for much of their annual revenue, and it is important that you take steps to capitalise on the spike in consumer spending.

This year Christmas is likely to be even more vital for many retailers. In such a tough economic climate, the loosening of the purse strings that the festive period brings can be a lifeline. Here are some tips to help you get people through the door.

1. Start now and think ahead

Christmas really is just around the corner, and it is important that you get prepared. Christmas shopping is about to be in full swing, and you need to be poised and ready to capitalise.

Similarly, you should already be thinking ahead to the post-Christmas period: the January sales, and the post-January lull. These can be tough for retailers, many of which find themselves faced with a difficult February. While you think about Christmas, read our tips on beating the post-January blues.

2. Consider discounting

Recent surveys have suggested that an unusually high proportion of retailers are offering pre-Christmas discounts this year, in an effort to compete in an increasingly difficult climate. You should therefore consider whether or not a pre-Christmas sale could help you boost revenue.

Sales are not a viable option for every retailer. Your decision will depend on a number of factors including your existing profit margins and the nature of the sector in which you operate. You might consider, for example, offering discounts on certain key items in order to boost footfall, with the intention of deriving other sales from those new customers. Read more about price promotions.

3. Run an event

‘Real-world’ events are amongst the most efficient and exciting ways of boosting footfall. Consider what sort of event you might be able to run on your premises. Late-night shopping is now a fixture on High Streets in the run-up to Christmas, but think about going the extra mile with, for example, a discount event with mince pies and entertainment. Many consumers will get part of their Christmas shopping in during their lunch break, so try to spread your events accordingly.

4. Underscore your independence

Independent retailers are being buffeted from all sides and the big chains, with their marketing clout and economies of scale, are a major threat. Yet your independence could be one of your biggest assets. British consumers are becoming more reticent to spend their cash with the multinationals, preferring to stay local and support independent retailers. You can turn this to your advantage, by highlighting the fact of your independence at every opportunity. Make sure your customers understand that yours is a one-off retailer. Consider working with others in the area, teaming up and perhaps offering[ ‘loyalty’ discounts][3] to customers who shop in other independent outlets.

5. Don't forget online

‘Cyber Monday’ has just passed, but the swell of pre-Christmas online sales will continue for some time yet. Clearly, peace of mind regarding delivery is a key consideration for online Christmas shoppers. Consider offering expedited delivery options, or discounting on next day delivery in order to attract custom. You might also think about boosting your online advertising efforts in the run-up to Christmas, increasing your bids on your most important keywords.

Above all, though, remember to take some time this Christmas to look back and take stock of 2012. This has been a difficult year across the board, and retailers have had to adapt in order to continue to thrive. Good luck, and happy Christmas!

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