2019 Holiday Shopping Tips & Predictions for Small Businesses

Last updated: April 27, 2020 | By Ivy Sieff

Reading time: 6 minutes

Back-to-school sales have ended and it’s time to usher in the 2019 holiday season with new merchandise and promotions that bring the customers in. Last year, holiday shopping sales reached $707.5 billion with Thanksgiving weekend (Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday) seeing 165 million shoppers in stores and online combined.

What can you expect in 2019? How can you handle the influx of shoppers? The following predictions – and ideas for success – will help you prepare your small business marketing for this year’s holiday shopping trends.

Does the Early Bird Really Catch the Worm?

Do you feel like you’re turning on the holiday music earlier and earlier every year? You’re not going mad from the constant sound of jingling bells – the holiday shopping season is starting earlier. It’s called “Christmas creep” and it’s a marketing phenomenon in which store owners and managers put up holiday decor as early as Halloween. If you do it just to keep up with the Joneses, you’re putting off some shoppers. In 2017, a psychologist claimed that playing holiday tunes early can cause stress in people. The good news is, you can enjoy early holiday sales without scaring off your customers.

How? Start your pre-holiday sales with subtlety. Before you go all-out with floor-to-ceiling decorations, start marking down some of the products you plan on featuring during your seasonal sales. This gives you a jump on your competition and you’ll satisfy the early birds who start their holiday shopping before they buy Halloween candy.

Who are these people? Generation Z. A Black Friday survey found 24% of Gen Zers will start their holiday shopping in early November.

…But Don’t Forget the Late Crowd

The same survey found that while half of holiday shoppers start buying gifts from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, around 28% start in early December and another 7% wait until the last minute, Christmas Eve. So, while you think getting a jump on the season will enable you to coast through December, think again. Especially if you sell products men buy as gifts. According to the study, men are the biggest procrastinators with 31% putting off holiday shopping until December. However, a study powered by Lending Tree found men are also three times more likely than women to have their shopping finished by Labor Day – and they spend twice as much.

This year, Black Friday falls six days later (Nov. 29) than in 2018, pushing the “official” start to the holiday season back by almost a week. Be mindful that more shoppers will start fulfilling loved ones’ wish lists in early December.

To address the shift in the shopping season, thoughtfully plan your sales strategy to last into the new year. Don’t front or backload your deals and discounts; instead, keep a steady stream of savings in your store and online. Speaking of the internet…

Add Clicks to Your Bricks for Holiday Shopping Online

Cyber Monday broke sales records in 2018, raking in $7.9 billion – making it the largest online shopping day in U.S. history. However, don’t count out your in-store promotions just yet. Industry experts say customers want to connect with the holiday shopping experience. This translates to more opportunities to increase sales – but you have to get them through your door first. Keep your hours of operation up to date on business directories and consider implementing search engine optimization (SEO) and/or search engine marketing (SEM) strategies to increase traffic to your site.

Use social media to increase foot traffic by posting special in-store only deals to your channels. Social Media Marketing places targeted ads on popular platforms that will build your brand awareness and elevate your customer engagement online.

Although it’s not necessarily new, the biggest craze in 2018 was BOPUS (buy online, pick up in store). This trend will continue with many more retailers jumping onboard as the BOPUS model takes the pressure off businesses and consumers. While it makes sense for big box stores to implement this strategy, you may wonder how your small business could benefit from it. If your business has a website (and it should!), you can list items for sale that you don’t traditionally keep on your shelves. This enables you to expand your inventory, without taking up hallowed real estate. When a customer places an order, the item can be drop-shipped to your store. Shoppers can pick up the order when it’s convenient and relieve additional holiday stress.

Gaining Sales from Smart Shoppers

Today, shoppers are much more informed then they were a mere 5 years ago. Technological advancements have empowered consumers with information available at their fingertips, delivered at an incredibly fast rate. Shoppers can research products or services from anywhere at any time – even in your store! According to Think With Google, at least 38% of holiday shoppers use their mobile devices while physically in a store, making it imperative your site loads quickly and is easy to navigate. It’s also important that you keep your offers updated so consumers aren’t confused by seeing 2 different prices or discounts.

Coupons Drive Sales

Think With Google found 62% of holiday shoppers are “deal seekers,” shoppers who do the majority of their shopping over Thanksgiving weekend when the “biggest” discounts happen. And while more people are searching for the best price online, don’t overlook the power of direct mail. 40% of Black Friday shoppers responded to an ad in their mailboxes in the past 30 days.1 This is evident by the number of circulars and flyers in mailboxes across the country over the holidays.

But, your small business isn’t limited to flyers or circulars. Direct mail coupons are cost-effective mini billboards that feature your best offer and an eye-catching image to grab consumers’ attention. Cardstock is ideal for customer rewards programs, enabling you to verify and track redemptions. Valpak PlusOneTM is an affordable stand-alone postcard that mails with, but not inside, Valpak’s famous Blue Envelope and includes creative design, artwork, lists, addressing, processing, printing and postage. For companies in need of a completely customizable option, solo direct mail will dial up your 1-to-1 marketing efforts. You reach the audience you want when you want, based on carrier routes, age, income, families with children, home ownership and even businesses.

Holiday Marketing Tips to Get You Started:

  1. Use in-store beacons to send ads, coupons, deals and product information to shoppers.
  2. Extend in-store only offers to online shoppers too and vice versa.
  3. Utilize your social media platforms to engage online shoppers as well as drive traffic to your storefront.
  4. Update your website with a responsive design (if it isn’t already).
  5. Capitalize on the growing trend of mobile shopping apps by creating one for your brand.
  6. Offer a social media only coupon to followers of specific platforms and ask for their email addresses in return.
  7. Create post-holiday sales on/offline to draw in consumers looking to spend cash gifts and gift cards.

The holidays are an exciting time for businesses and consumers. Get the biggest bang for your advertising buck by entrusting your marketing to the experts at Valpak. Contact your local Valpak franchise office. We’ll walk you through how you can reach a targeted, high-income audience for as little as pennies per household.


1. 2019 AudienceSCAN®.