5 Last-Minute Event Ideas to Drive More Holiday Sales

With Christmas less than 90 days away, it is time to kick your holiday marketing plans into full gear.  Even if you have already planned your holiday marketing calendar, it is not too late to add in a few easy events to drive more traffic and sales for the season.

Here are five cost-effective holiday events that you can add to your plan:

1.  Holiday gourmet food event with sampling. Food sampling attracts customers who love a free sample, enjoy cooking or who gift gourmet products.  In a recent study conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation, purchases rose from 11% to 52% among customers who attended an event. Consider getting creative with your gourmet food sampling event. You might partner with a local chef to prepare some of the food samples using products from the store. You can compensate the chef by offering a store gift certificate, donating a gift basket that they can give to one of their customers, or by allowing them to distribute brochures for their catering business during your event.
2.  Pet photos with Santa. According to the ASPCA, approximately 62% of US households have a pet. Pet owners are very passionate about their furry friends. Why not offer the opportunity for your customers with pets to bring them to the store for a free photo with Santa. You might also consider offering a prize for the best photo. Even if you don’t sell pet products at your store, an increase in store traffic almost always equates to higher store sales. For this event, you might want to partner with a local photographer or a college student majoring in graphic design or photography who might be off of school for the month of December.
3.  Holiday tree decorating class. Customers are always looking for fresh new ways to trim their holiday tree. Partner with a local floral designer who can come in and provide innovative ways to turn the tree from drab to fab using most of their existing ornaments as a base. Consider handing out exclusive store coupons for those who participate in the class this is a great way to reward your customers for coming into the store and participating plus it will also help you make more sales.
4.  Holiday caroling. Partner with your local high school chorus to offer a special night of holiday caroling in the store. Not only will the parents of the students stop by the store to support their children, but also many will also end up making a holiday purchase as well.
5.  Partner with local merchants to create a special holiday shopping night. If your store is located in a downtown area or in close proximity to other stores, considering working with other merchants to cross promote a special holiday night out for residents such as a downtown luminaries lighting, tree lighting, or cookie sampling. Each merchant can distribute flyers for the event and you may even want to consider a co-op advertisement and mailing to market the event.
Patricia Norins is the founder and publisher of two national trade magazines and two trade shows. Specialty Retail Report, the voice of the specialty retail industry (carts, kiosks and temporary in-line stores) has a readership of more than 75,000 and GIFT SHOP, the magazine for independent gift shop owners, has a readership of more than 80,000. She also serves as spokesperson for Small Business Saturday, a national initiative to encourage consumers to shop locally, and is an internationally renowned speaker who focuses on delivering savvy business strategies to help retailers grow their businesses effectively and inexpensively.