Tuesday, December 14

Holiday Shopping

We're in the middle of the holiday shopping season, and retailers are pulling out all the stops to drive sales. I myself was shopping this past weekend and was surprised by the level of "sales" -- 20%, 30%, 40% off everything in the store at places like Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Armani Exchange, Club Monaco, Old Navy. These kinds of offers are generally held until January, after the big rush. Not this year, they are front and center during prime shopping time!

One big trend that has continued into this season is the "friends and family" discount. I've received dozens of postcards, tweets, and facebook postings offering me significant discounts as a "friend". Social media has made this easy for brands to distribute these kinds of offers. Funny thing is that when I've gone to the store, I've noticed that many of these retailers are offering these discounts to everyone. So much for "friends and family"! One retailer handled it really well though by posting: "friends don't keep secrets so everyone saves." Clever.

The other big trend continuing into this season is the pop-up store, and we are seeing several varieties "popping up." There are of course the big holiday villages in the city centers selling gift items. They are in several locations here in NY as well as Chicago, San Francisco, all the major cities. They are a lot of fun to browse and to get unique holiday gifts. A great opportunity for smaller businesses to get exposure.

In the malls, we are continuing to see pop-up kiosks offering everything from hair accessories to mobile devices to Proactiv. These kiosks seem to come and go as shopping volume increases and decreases. Some are manned by sales people and others are more like vending machines. Best Buy has a great vending machine that I've seen in malls and even in airports. Smart.

And then of course there are complete pop-up stores that go into empty retail spaces for a short window of time to capitalize on demand. I wrote a post about Piperlime a short while ago who has a pop-up store in Soho. With so much empty retail space, many brands are creating these stores to be in the main stream of massive holiday shopping.

There was a great article about pop-ups yesterday, and in fact I am quoted in it! These pop-up stores basically put brands (big and small) in the right place at the right time as shoppers spend their precious holiday cash and credit.

Happy holiday marketing and shopping!

What's your experience? Jim.

PS -- if you don't mind, please click here to vote for "The Experience Effect" as one of the best books for small business

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