'Tis the Season to Go Shopping

The lights are twinkling, the music is playing, and the stores are packed. Love it or hate it, we are in the midst of the holiday shopping season. It’s a busy time for many Canadians, but especially so for many small-business owners.

There’s no doubt that in a world of rapidly changing technology, increasing consumer comfort with online shopping, and the influence of American shopping habits (looking at you Black Friday), the way Canadians shop has changed dramatically in the past decade. However, sometimes the things that stay the same can come as a bit of surprise!

We’ve rounded up a few facts on holiday shopping to keep mind this season:

  1. Online isn’t everything

    With the constant talk about growing e-commerce businesses, it is easy to assume that most consumers are migrating online for their gift purchases. While it is true that online shopping has become mainstream in Canada, most shoppers still plan to visit brick-and-mortar stores in 2018. In fact, according to a PwC Canada survey, 63% of Canadian consumers consider brick-and-mortar retail to be their primary holiday shopping channel, and 98% of shoppers expect to visit more than one store this season.

    However, more than half of Canadian consumers like to do their research online to get ideas for gifts and to check prices. Retailers who have both a strong digital presence and offer a great in-store experience have an advantage when appealing to these omni-channel consumers.

  2. Millennials enjoy tangible items

    The flexibility and convenience of gift cards have made them popular in recent years, but most millennials actually prefer to receive physical gifts. Only 21% of Canadian millennials plan to buy a gift cards for others (compared to 38% overall), and only 30% would like to receive them as a gift (compared to 43% overall).

    If you expect to be a gift-destination this holiday season, make sure your staff are well-versed in the products or services you offer and that they feel comfortable making recommendations if shoppers need some guidance. As well, a digital gift guide with some options for different price ranges can be a great addition to your email marketing.

  3. Holiday spending is not limited to just gifts for family and friends

    Gifts for our furry friends are big business too! The average Canadian pet-owner will spend $65 on gifts for their animals.

    Additionally, holiday spending goes beyond gift-giving. Travel makes up a big part of holiday spending, as well as food and entertainment.

  4. Shopping happens throughout the year

    This may come as a surprise to all the procrastinators out there, but a 2017 study by Accenture revealed that 24% of consumers randomly purchase holiday gifts throughout the year. There are still plenty of last-minute purchases though, with 28% of consumers shopping right up until Christmas.

  5. Big sales are not for everyone

    Boxing Day sales are a well-established shopping tradition, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday have crept into Canadian shopping culture as well in recent years. While a lot of spending does happen on these big discount days, not everybody partakes. According to the 2017 Accenture study, there is a growing trend of Canadians being less likely to shop during Boxing Day and Black Friday than previous years.

    What does this mean for retailers and service providers? You should carefully consider who your customer base is, and whether or not it is worthwhile to offer big deals during Boxing Day and Black Friday. Depending on your customers’ price sensitivity, as well as your profit margins – you might be better off skipping it and instead focus on conveying your value proposition.

    If you are going to offer big deals during Black Friday or Boxing Day, think twice before announcing it ahead of time. Shoppers who were planning on paying full-price might delay their purchases if they know a big discount is coming.

The holiday shopping rush can be overwhelming for small business owners, but it can also be lucrative if you play your cards right! Remember to always consider who your target market is when planning your holiday promotions. Do they need a sale to motivate them? Or are they willing to pay full-price for excellent value and great customer service? Are they going to purchase a gift card or are they going to be looking for gift recommendations at various price points? It’s also key to consider customer experience during the shopping frenzy – both online and in-store (if applicable). Being thoughtful about your commercial space, making staff training and knowledge a priority, and ensuring your website is up-to-date and optimized for success is a great place to start.

If you’re looking for help with things such as market research, digital marketing, or creating revenue from your commercial space – AWE can help! Check out our calendar of upcoming workshops and training.

Happy shopping season and more importantly, Happy Holidays!  


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