Holiday sales in November and December are expected to increase 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion over 2012, according to the NRF. The forecast is higher than the 10-year average holiday sales growth of 3.3 percent. This optimistic outlook could mean strong fourth quarter returns for flea market vendors, especially if they provide top holiday merchandise as well as superior customer service. Here are four strategies to help you increase holiday sales in 2013.
Stock up on trending gift products
Pay attention to gift giving trends as well as to traditional favorites. Current trends influence buying behavior and can be a potent tool for flea market vendors. Personalized products such as stampable rings and pendants, as well as framed letter and sports prints, are the rage and stand to be top holiday sellers. Loom band kits and pre-made bracelets, tech accessories such as animal themed smartphone covers, and bright and neon colored apparel, all promise to be popular items in the upcoming season.
To spot other gift, fashion and color trends, check out The New York Times and USA Today, as well as magazines like Time and Newsweek, for reports on broad lifestyle and business trends. Most industries, such as home furnishings and décor, have trade magazines and journals. Elle Décor and House Beautiful, for example, forecast fads well in advance of their general evidence.
In addition, many free websites offer trend updates. A few of the best are:
- www.pantone.com, the website for Pantone Colors. Each year in November, Pantone publishes its key color for the following year. This year it is Emerald Green.
- www.hfnmag.com covers the home furnishings industry.
- www.trendwatching.com offers a free service scanning the globe for emerging consumer trends.
Other indicators of new product crazes are museum exhibits, TV programs and blockbuster movies. The Walking with Dinosaurs film is scheduled for a December 20, 2013, U.S. release and children are sure to be clamoring for toys with this theme.
Trade shows are another efficient way to monitor the latest products. IGES/SSS is the largest gathering of resort and souvenir gift vendors and buyers in North America. It will be held November 5-9 in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, TN. The Norton Shows apparel, jewelry and gift markets, the next of which will be held in Gatlinburg, TN, November 16-18, are also great resources for the newest product introductions.
Merchandise your booth
Once you have stocked your booth with the hottest holiday items, it is important to display them in eye catching ways and drive traffic into your booth. Fresh decorations can motivate shoppers to consider how an item would look on their holiday table, or what a great gift it would make for someone special. A vanilla or pine fragrance oil and burner presentation attracts customers with its aroma and can sell both items, and a poinsettia presentation can sell both a vase and plant. The holiday music you are playing can also be sold as CDs.
You should also consider creating gift baskets and bundling items or letting customers create their own assortment. This can be a strong cross-selling tool and help move a larger volume of merchandise. Muslin bags and decorative boxes as well as wicker baskets make nice presentations.
Another great way to encourage traffic to your booth is to offer snacks such as peppermint sticks and popcorn. Easy and inexpensive, treats drive traffic and create an emotional bond between you and your customers.
Finally, do not underestimate the power of a friendly smile and casual approach. Let customers look through and handle your merchandise, when appropriate, and stay just near enough to answer any questions or offer help as needed.
Expand into seasonal fairs and festivals
In addition to your regular market, try setting up shop at the one-day fairs and festivals that pop up around the holidays. These annual bazaars often get a great deal of publicity and can be worth the effort involved because of the volume of traffic they receive. An extra day or two at a nearby pop-up market can be a quick and easy profit opportunity. Festivalnet.com and festivals.com are good sources to help you locate these types of events. You can also do online research by entering your preferred location and the words “festival,” “fair” and “holiday bazaar” into a search engine.
Offers shoppers several payment options
Now that you have stocked up on the best products, drawn in customers with creative merchandising techniques, and created an inviting ambience with a fragrance or food, it is time to seal the deal. As fewer shoppers are carrying cash, vendors need to consider accepting additional forms of payments. Possible alternatives include debit and credit cards. With the numerous mobile payment apps available at low cost, such as Square, PayAnywhere and PayPal, it has never been easier for vendors to accept credit cards. Importantly, this will lead to an increase in sales as customers who pay with credit cards spend more than those who pay with cash. They will also see an increase in customer loyalty because they are allowing customers to pay how they would like to pay.
Holiday shopping experts are forecasting strong holiday sales in November and December. By researching and carrying the latest products, and merchandising those products in a fun and festive way, Q4 could be your best selling season this year.