3 ways to boost holiday retail sales

Published on December 03, 2021
Valerie Williams
Senior Content Marketing Manager

For retailers, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. American retailers are enjoying an increase in foot traffic after a chaotic 20 months since the start of the pandemic, with 104.9 million shoppers taking part in Black Friday 2021, up from 92.3 million last year. This rise in footfall - and therefore, available customers - is likely to continue. In preparation, let’s explore a key source of intelligence you can easily access to make sure your staffing, inventory, and marketing strategies align to localized surges in footfall that would otherwise catch you off guard.

The holiday season is on track for significant surge in retail spending

The National Retail Federation expects to see a rise of 8.5% to 10.5% in retail spending this holiday season, and NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay says “[there’s] considerable momentum heading into this holiday shopping season.” People want to celebrate, get into the holiday spirit, and feel a sense of normalcy. Participating in holiday events and getting gifts for their loved ones may be one way to achieve that. 

Not just that, but news of supply shortages has inspired many holiday shoppers to start early this year. Shoppers are worried about their must-have gifts being out of stock as the holidays approach, so they’re shopping earlier than usual to cross those items off their lists. Half of shoppers took advantage of deals for holiday gifts before Thanksgiving, creating a longer window of opportunity for retailers.

Leverage event data for larger market share this holiday season

Not only are demand patterns different this year, so too is loyalty. Holiday shoppers are more willing to switch brands now than ever before, meaning it’s crucial for companies to ensure their in-demand products are in stock. In all fairness, what’s loyalty when your preferred brand of an item isn’t even available? On the other hand, brand loyalty is a no-brainer when a certain brand happens to be the only one in stock.

And retailers, who likely have gaps in their inventory after a demanding Black Friday and Cyber Week are hurrying to get ready for what could be a record spending holiday season. “Retailers are making significant investments in their supply chains and spending heavily to ensure they have products on their shelves to meet this time of exceptional consumer demand,” says Shay. 

And rightfully so. Reduced footfall post-pandemic makes it even more critical to be ready with enough inventory whenever there’s an influx of potential customers near you. And when the opportunity arises, you want to be fully prepared with enough product to respond to the way the environment truly is, not the way you think it will be.

How to make your demand planning and forecasting smarter

At most large retailers, demand planning for inventory, supply chain, marketing, and staffing is often done on a national or state level. Without localized information about impactful events happening near them, they are left with an incomplete view of incoming demand. Even for smaller retailers, manual searches for events and local event websites leave out crucial details like predicted attendance and historical venue data that are key to more accurate planning and forecasts.

That’s where demand intelligence comes in. It’s an entirely new way to access and use detailed event data so you can know what drives demand and what will impact footfall near your stores. It gives you the power to search by event category, location, and more to pinpoint not just what’s causing – but what will cause fluctuations in demand, and why. With access to verified, enriched event data, retailers are identifying demand catalysts to improve supply chain efforts, stock just the right amount of inventory, enhance accuracy in employee schedules, and even boost marketing results.

Labor forecasts that are 98% accurate? Yes please – here’s how

For example, Legion is using demand intelligence to bolster labor optimization on a whole new scale. Thanks to data coverage in a variety of event categories, along with labels that provide a much deeper level of detail, they’ve reached labor forecasts with 98% accuracy, helping retailers take advantage of unanticipated sales opportunities when they arise. 

Event Demand Impact in Chicago 12/1/21 - 1/1/22

Event Demand Impact in Chicago 12/1/21 - 1/1/22

For example, in Chicago, there’s a significant spike coming up on the 5th, the 11th, and the 19th. There are 55 events taking place in the area on December 5, including:

… and many more impactful events happening that day.

Any one of these events can mean a huge opportunity for local retailers of all kinds to boost their revenue. Avoid having to waste perishables, taking up extra floor space with unnecessary products, and missing out on incoming spikes in demand with reliable data that gives you actionable foresight.

Then there’s one leading quick serve restaurant with 5,000+ stores that’s using data intelligence to tap into a projected $8.5 million in labor optimization and supply chain efficiencies in a year.

Wondering if there’s still time for you to use data to jumpstart your holiday sales this month? There’s definitely time to get in some quick wins. But the clock is ticking, and more events are still coming in every day.

3 ways to leverage event data to get your slice of the holiday sales pie

1. Spruce up your holiday sales program

Crazy things happen when you combine sales data with event data. You can discover what causes spikes and dips in sales at different locations during different parts of the year. With insights into the specific events that drive more customers to your physical stores, you can optimize pricing to capitalize on increased foot traffic. 

Almost everyone in retail knows (and dreads) the experience of rushing around a busy store wondering what’s going on, or having to call employees to come in on their scheduled days off. Or worse, being the area manager fielding panicked calls from stores who are slammed, or being the demand planner at headquarters trying to explain why we weren’t prepared for the big surge this weekend. Teams caught off guard by event-driven fluctuations have to play catchup, when they’d yield much more by adjusting prices to meet a spike in demand before it actually happens. 

2. Know exactly when to restock

There are a number of global and industry-wide problems out of our hands, but there are business-critical problems you can control — which is why tracking inventory has never been so important. It’s key for businesses to get better inventory visibility, accuracy, and forecasting to avoid out-of-stocks and overstocks, which cost more than $1 trillion globally each year.

We know what our customers want, so we stock up accordingly. Until something unexpected happens. You know Hanukah has already started and Christmas is coming up, but what about the popular community events drawing in crowds? Are there Christmas concerts, community fun runs, charity drives or winter events near your stores? What about the niche events you haven’t heard of? Might they bring you more business for an evening?

3. Stay fully staffed

Over 57% of the workforce is hourly in the US, yet most companies with hourly workers aren’t leveraging data-driven insight for staffing. It’s known that staffing levels and store performance go hand in hand, but labor-related expenses still account for a significant portion of operating costs for retailers. Being under or overstaffed can have a massive impact on revenue and profitability, especially during the holiday season. 

With demand intelligence, you can uncover which events drive your demand so you can align staffing strategies at each location with incoming demand. Identify potential spikes or dips in demand ahead of time based on historical trends for more accurate labor forecasts. 

For example, knowing the start and end time of a Christmas concert with 3,000 attendees happening right near one of your store locations. This foresight gives you time to schedule the right amount of staff to look after customers on their way in and out of the store that day.

Interested in seeing what demand intelligence can do for your business this holiday season? Speak to a specialist today!