2015 Holiday Shopping Predictions for Small Business

School is back in for the 2015-16 school year and the weather is cooling in most places. Fall and winter holiday items are beginning to line retail store shelves and virtual storefronts. It’s been predicted that 2015 holiday shopping sales will increase 4.1%, up from 3.5% in 2014. So how can you prepare your business for this influx of shoppers? The following four predictions and ideas for success should help prepare your small business’ marketing for this year’s holiday shopping trends.

Increase in Retail Sales

With online, retail, and mobile sales predicted to surge during the 2015 shopping season, the opportunities to increase your consumer conversions are plenty. It is forecasted that during November and December of 2015,U.S. retail sales will increase by 5.7% — $885.70 billion in total sales — the highest since 2011 when sales rose 6.3% during the same months. You may be asking: why such an increase in sales? For starters, gas station sales — 12% of total retail sales — dropped significantly at the end of 2014. Consumers are benefiting greatly from lower prices at the pump, which will encourage shoppers to spend the savings on more traditional retail. Also, incomes are increasing and unemployment rates are decreasing.

Increase in Online Sales

Consumers are more savvy than ever before. With digital devices constantly at the ready, consumers can browse, research, and compare prices online before ever stepping foot in a brick and mortar store. Andrea Van Dam, CEO of Women’s Marketing states: “Online research is the new browsing…Today’s consumer comes into the store with more knowledge and a greater intent-to-purchase than we’ve ever seen before.” Though e-commerce is predicted to take a slight dip this holiday shopping season (13.9% vs. 14.4% in 2014), it is estimated that it will generate 9% of total retail sales in 2015 — $79.40 billion — up from 8.3% in 2014.

Black Friday has always been the biggest day for shoppers to purchase their holiday bounty. However, online shopping before and during Thanksgiving week is expected to produce bigger results for retailers in 2015. “Black Friday” shopping is starting earlier and earlier — on Thanksgiving Day — one day before the traditional start of “Black Friday.” Over 141 million shoppers took advantage of Thanksgiving weekend shopping deals in 2014, with numbers estimated to increase in 2015. Recent holiday shopping trends show that between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday 2015, online sales will increase 10-25% compared to 2014, with at least 25% of consumers using social media sites for shopping. Consumers are also taking advantage of pre-Thanksgiving Day sales because of discounts and free shipping being offered by retailers.

Increase in Mobile Shopping Sales

Mobile use is on the rise and shoppers’ confidence in making purchases on smartphones is also rapidly increasing. In the past, consumers used smartphones to browse, but switched to a different device to make the final purchase. However, it is expected that more than half of online shopping will be done via a mobile device in 2015, specifically smartphones. eMarketer predicts that mobile commerce sales will increase by 32.2% in 2015. To accommodate such widespread use of mobile devices for holiday shopping, it is important to consider converting your current website to a responsive site. With a responsive web design, your content can be delivered and viewed on any device, adapting to any screen size being used. This will ensure your website is mobile ready and customers won’t go elsewhere. In addition to a responsive website, consider that mobile apps are one of the fastest growing mobile device trends in 2015. By the end of 2014, the use of shopping apps increased by 174% — up from 77% in 2013.

Increase in Post-Christmas Shopping Sales

Many consumers used to rush out the day after Christmas to return unwanted gifts, and retailers knew it was the biggest day to handle returns. But in recent years it has become the second busiest shopping day of the year. Recent retail trends show that post-holiday in-store shopping increased by 8% on December 26th and 27th in 2014 because consumers were looking for markdowns — a large part of the consumer spending plan during the holiday season.

Holiday shopping in 2015 is predicted to be the biggest yet. With increased incomes, decreased unemployment rates, and money saved from dipping gas prices, your consumers are ready to spend. Utilizing email offers, in-mail circulars, free shipping, special deals, social media, and a mobile friendly website all driven by mobile/online marketing, you are sure to increase the number of paying customers both on and offline.

Holiday Marketing Tips To Get You Started:

  1. Consider using in-store beacons to send ads, coupons, deals, and product information to in-store consumers.
  2. Consider extending in-store only offers to online shoppers too.
  3. Utilize your social media platforms to engage online shoppers as well as drive traffic to your storefront.
  4. Consider offering free shipping during a specified time for the holiday shopping season.
  5. Update your website with a responsive design if it isn’t already.
  6. Capitalize on the fast growing trend of using mobile shopping apps by creating one for your brand.
  7. Create post-holiday sales on/offline to draw in consumers on the second busiest shopping day of the year.
  8. Consider offering a social media only coupon to followers of specific networks and ask for their email addresses in return.
  9. Offer consumers the option to order online then pick up the item(s) in-store.
  10. Send out ads with holiday promotions and sales.