Christmas Shopping

Now the Halloween decorations have gone and the bonfires and fireworks have stopped, the Christmas season has officially begun! The Christmas markets are up and open in Manchester and with Black Friday looming (which some say marks the beginning of Christmas shopping), retailers and shopping centres are about to embark upon their busiest time of year.

For shopping centres, the Christmas period is an opportunity to significantly increase footfall and create consumer loyalty for years to come. However, this heightened footfall comes with increased pressure for management teams across all areas of shopping centres with today’s savvy consumer still expecting the same personal, exciting experience. So how can shopping centres and retailers prepare for this?

Hiring additional or temporary staff or investing in training is a common strategy to ensure everything runs smoothly and the consumer experience isn’t compromised – well trained staff, especially in-store are invaluable.

With the increased number of visitors, it is critical to keep wait time to a minimum. Utilising technology is a great way to ensure stores are running in the most efficient way possible: keeping on top of stock levels; allowing consumers to purchase anywhere in store and the ability to order items if the retailer is out of stock are all great benefits derived from technology developments.

Promotions need to be pushed out on every channel; social media, website, TV adverts, banners, posters, anywhere your consumers can be found. If you have a promotion or event on in-store, it is important to get the word out, to draw consumers in-store and away from online. The festive period offers opportunities to have in-store events/themed days, for example, 20% off Christmas party dresses in store, or 10% off all retailers in the shopping centre this Saturday.

TV adverts are a great way to create word-of-mouth and conversation about a brand. In the past few weeks, all the big retailers and shopping centres have been releasing their much awaited TV campaigns! John Lewis, Liverpool ONE, intu and many more have pulled out all the stops for their TV adverts this year to create a sense of excitement for the schemes! These adverts are highly promoted in print and online publications through comparison and opinion content and they often receive millions of shares via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels – the amount of publicity they can receive is phenomenal!

Window displays aren’t a new concept, but a tool which cannot be over looked. They are a great opportunity to display products to entice customers into store. Coming into the Christmas period I love looking out for the new windows and being inspired for presents for friends and family or finding that perfect Christmas outfit. Aside from products, windows are a great place for advertising in-store promotions and events, and to tell a story to entice customers to enter the store. With shopping centre footfall set to increase, it is vital retailers use this to their full advantage to encourage passing by consumers into store.

Commercialisation units can be found in centres throughout the year, but at Christmas time they are a great mechanism to add an experiential aspect to the mall. Some centres will use the space themselves for Christmas wrapping or a Santa’s grotto, offering variety to consumers. Leasing the units out to independent retailers and untraditional retailers such as car dealers or event companies adds an additional proposition and a USP for a scheme which encourages individuals to travel to a centre further than their local.

Events are a common shopping centre strategy; celebrity appearances, ice-rinks, choir performances, light switch on, the list goes on. All of these events are a great way to entice consumers to visit your scheme. This is not just a seasonal strategy, having events are an annual tactic to ensure schemes are competing with others and engaging with consumers.

Not only during the run up to Christmas is footfall high, the momentum continues as centres prepare for the much anticipated January sales. Car parks will be at full capacity, F&B offerings will be highly sought after and retailers will be rushed off their feet! There are numerous considerations and challenges schemes need to strategise for, but, the festive period is a great opportunity to transform a shopping centre into an experiential venue for consumers to visit.

Kat Whitehead, Marketing Executive, Foundation Recruitment

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