Capitalize on US Holiday Shopping Trends

Written by Megan Denny

The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts retail sales will increase 3.6 to 4 percent for the 2017 holiday season. To capture these holiday dollars, you need to have a plan. Let’s look at holiday shopping trends and ways you can help shoppers set their sights on scuba gifts, starting now.

Did you know that more than 50 percent of shoppers have already started thinking about gifts for friends and family? An NRF survey of more than 2,000 consumers found more than half of shoppers begin researching their holiday purchases by October, but most don’t buy anything until mid-November (source NRF).

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According to the NRF, 25 percent of holiday shoppers in 2016 used online wish lists, and 60 percent would like to use online wish lists in the future. Online wish lists allow consumers to type or copy/paste links to products they would like to receive as gifts. Gift givers can search for wish lists using their friend or family member’s email address. If your website is powered by Shopify, wish list plugins are available. Another option is free wish list creation sites, like Giftster, where you can create groups and invite customers to create a diving wish list.

The number of people who purchase holiday gifts online grows each year, especially for those younger than 45. But don’t write off this important demographic. A recent study found more Millennial and family life stage shoppers are planning to increase holiday spending this year compared to those in older age groups.

Half of US consumers visit retail stores to gather gift ideas. Strategic pricing and packaging items can help to prevent showrooming, when a shopper visits a store to check out a product then goes home to purchase it online. Bundling products makes it challenging to compare your prices with those of an online retailer.

Limited-time offers give shoppers a reason to buy now instead of going home and “thinking about it.” Consumer research backs this up: 39 percent of shoppers choose to buy in-store to take advantage of a special offer or promotion. Give shoppers a reason to think twice before walking out of your store.

Taking time to promote gift ideas and create packages can pay significant dividends.

Start by jotting down the top 10 items in your store that every diver should own. Choose products in a wide price range, from $5 to $500 US (the average American spends a total of $400 to $900 on holiday gifts). Take photos of the products being modeled by a smiling staff member, and include the list and photos in your November and December email newsletter. Post one idea along with a photo to your social media channels once per week leading up to the holidays.

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In addition, create product bundles for a variety of budgets. Save-a-dive kits, dive travel kits and the PADI eLearning Gift Pass™ may appeal to nondivers who may be intimidated about purchasing scuba equipment.

Next, set up customer wish lists, either in-store or online. An in-store wish list could be as simple as a list on your store computer, or even a clipboard behind the counter with customer names and information. Digital options are described above. Promote that you have customer wish lists on social media, in your email newsletter and in-store.

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