Merchandise Store Tips for the Holidays: Boosting Your Festive Sales

merchandise your store

The holiday shopping season officially kicks off this weekend, and small retailers nationwide are getting ready. When you’re a brick-and-mortar shop, one key to success is making your store visually appealing so it stands out from the others nearby. There’s still time to make some last-minute merchandising changes that will attract passersby. Here are some merchandise store tips for the holidays.

Merchandise Your Store Tips: Holidays

While decorative lights and joyful tunes play their part, the true magic lies in the art of merchandising. Merchandise Your Store for the Holidays is more than just a mantra; it’s a strategy that can significantly boost foot traffic and conversions

merchandise store tips holidays

From the Outside In

Merchandise Your Store

Give your store an objective once-over from outside the entrance. If it’s got an outside entrance on the street or in a parking lot, is the entrance clean and free of trash? Is the sidewalk swept? Does it catch your eye from the street or parking lot?

If your store is inside a mall, how close do customers have to be before they notice your storefront? How does it compare to next-door stores? Does it stand out or blend in?

If your signage isn’t doing all it should be, now’s the time to place some banners, window posters or easel displays that will really make your store entrance “pop.”

Window Treatments

merchandise store tips holidays

Your window displays need to catch customers’ eyes. I grew up near New York City, where window dressing is an art. Think of a theme that’s appropriate for your brand, your customers and your location.

That could mean channeling the magic of the Manhattan Macy’s winter wonderland if your brand is more traditional or child-focused.

If you’re in a Southern California beach city, you could create a “surfing Santa” theme. Or if you target Millennials, your windows could offer a snarky, humorous take on the holidays.

The goal is to create something that stops customers in their tracks. Of course, you also want to make sales, so try incorporating hard-to-find, must-have or bestselling product into your displays.

It’s What’s Inside that Counts

merchandise store tips holidays

Once inside your store, customers should feel the same vibe they got from the window display, whether that’s a carefully curated, museum-like display of a few key pieces or a cornucopia of plenty with products overflowing from every shelf and table. Even if you go the latter route, make sure your displays are merchandised to guide busy customers to smart choices.

merchandise store tips holidays

For example, group complementary products together so customers can grab and go. You might even consider displaying pretty baskets, bags or boxes nearby so customers can “build their own” gift baskets. Use signage to spell it out—don’t make rushed holiday shoppers think too hard.

Shelf labels or display signs that say things like “Great Gifts for Mom” or “For the Guy Who Has Everything” will help guide customers where they need to go.

Seasonal Product Highlights

The holidays are all about gifting and festivity. Focus on merchandising products that resonate with the season, from gift sets to festive decor. Here are some things you could do:

  • Gifting and Festivity: Ensure the products you highlight resonate with the spirit of the season.
  • Dedicated Sections: Create areas like “Holiday Bestsellers” and “Gift Ideas” to spotlight popular or recommended items.
  • Festive Signage: Elevate product visibility with vibrant and thematic signs in high-traffic spots.
  • Product Bundling: Combine related products into discounted sets, offering value and encouraging more extensive purchases.
  • Prime Placement: Position these highlighted products where they’re most likely to catch a shopper’s eye and prompt a purchase.

Sensory Overload

Your store should be a feast for the eyes, but don’t forget about the other senses. If appropriate to your brand, pleasant holiday scents can put customers in a festive mood and keep them in the store longer. (Just make sure it’s not overwhelming.) Background music, whether slow, seasonal, fast or energetic (think Abercrombie stores) can lure customers in and encourage them to shop.

Holiday shopping can be a marathon activity, so make space for a few cushy chairs where shoppers’ tired companions can rest their legs.

Finally, consider a small refreshment area with hot tea, cider or lemon water and cookies or other treats to re-energize your guests. (If spillage or staining is a concern, stay away from the ooey-gooey items and stick to less risky treats like candy canes or gingerbread cookies.)

Interactive Display Stations

In the age of experiential retail, interactive displays can set you apart. Whether it’s a station where customers can customize gifts, sample products, or engage in a festive activity, such touchpoints enhance in-store engagement.

By allowing customers to interact directly with products, you’re increasing the likelihood of them forming a connection and making a purchase.

Limited-Time Offers and Flash Sales

The word “limited” often sparks urgency. Merchandise exclusive products or time-sensitive deals at the forefront. These “doorbusters” can attract more foot traffic and drive impulse purchases.

Pair these offers with countdown timers or “Days till Christmas” signs to emphasize the fleeting nature of the deal. This sense of urgency can lead to quicker purchasing decisions.

Engaging Customer Interactions

Use the festive season to engage directly with your customers. Consider setting up a “Gift Concierge” station, where staff can offer gift recommendations. Encourage customers to share their shopping lists, and curate a selection of products tailored to their needs.

Not only does this personalize the shopping experience, but it also promotes higher sales through direct product suggestions.

And Don’t Forget. . .

Impulse buys next to your point-of-sale area are a great way to monetize this space. People who are shopping for gifts are usually in a generous mood and may be more willing than usual to make small, last-minute purchases.

Stock this area with eye-catching, low-cost items that make good stocking stuffers or gag gifts, as well as practical extras that everyone needs such as gift tags, cards or pretty ribbons.

Take a cue from Sephora stores, which excel at monetizing this space. The lines at Sephora stores can get long, but customers are usually so engrossed in the dozens of $20-and-under cosmetic treats displayed in the checkout area they don’t mind waiting.

Festive Merchandising Strategies for the Holidays Summary

Merchandising StrategyDescriptionBenefits
Outside AppealEnsure a clean entrance, noticeable from the street/parking lot. Add banners, window posters, and easel displays.Captures attention, entices passersby to enter.
Window TreatmentsTheme-based window displays relevant to brand and target audience. Incorporate bestselling products.Creates visual interest, draws in curious shoppers.
Interior Vibe & Product DisplayMaintain consistency with the window theme. Strategically arrange products for easy access.Ensures smooth customer journey, potentially boosting sales.
Seasonal Product HighlightsHighlight festive products. Use signage, product bundling, and prime placement.Directs customers to desired products, encourages additional purchases.
Sensory AppealEngage all senses with pleasant scents, music, and refreshments.Enhances overall shopping experience, potentially increasing store time.
Interactive Display StationsStations for product customization, sampling, or festive activities.Encourages customer interaction, fosters connection to products.
Limited-Time OffersShowcase exclusive products and deals. Use countdowns to emphasize urgency.Drives foot traffic, spurs impulse buys.
Engaging Customer InteractionsGift Concierge" stations for personalized recommendations.Personalizes shopping, can lead to higher sales.
Point-of-Sale Impulse BuysStock low-cost items and essentials like gift tags and ribbons.Capitalizes on checkout time, drives last-minute add-ons.


Christmas Window Display Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.