Successful Holiday Merchandising for Retail

Virtually all retailers can take advantage of holiday merchandising opportunities. For retailers in Canada, Christmas and Boxing Day come to mind, as well as Valentine’s Day, Canada Day, Halloween and the ever increasing popularity of Black Friday.

So if every retailer is merchandising for the holidays, how do make sure your efforts compete? Here are some tips on successful holiday merchandising.


If you’re going to have a holiday sale--we’ll use Christmas as an example--you won’t get much traction by hanging a few ornaments on your door. Your entire store should have a festive ambience, with recognizable colour schemes and aesthetics. For example, using the colours red and green consistently in the store can instantly change the ambience to a festive Christmas feel.  Tip: after Christmas, remove the green colours and you’re on your way to Chinese New Year or even Valentine’s Day. Once the colour accents are added, hang some (again consistent) ornaments and decorations from the ceiling, string some Christmas style lighting, and complete with a wreath on the front door.


Building upon the ambience, make sure your display areas (i.e. display windows, etc.) are all themed for the same holiday. Incorporate some of your hottest items, or products with the best profit margins within the displays. Make use of window painting as well  It is particularly effective at Christmas but also good to utilize at Halloween or Valentine’s Day.

‘Custom’ Customer Service

If your staff culture is healthy, it can be fun--and rewarding from a sales perspective--to have your staff greet customers with holiday oriented greetings.  Greetings, such “Happy Holidays, how can I help you?” or “Can I help you find a Valentines gift for someone special?”  help the customer stay in the mood for the holiday that your ambience has already created. If your customer service staff is game, have them wear festive items as well.


Holidays can inadvertently cause anxiety and fatigue for people of all ages. Add shopping into the mix and customers can be left feeling frustrated after only a short time. Make sure that your retail store setup is conducive to an easy shopping experience. Apart from that, make sure your sales staff isn’t too pushy--instead use the holiday greeting and less ‘salesy’ parlay. Also, provide seating for your customers. Anyone of your customers may have been shopping for hours before getting to your store. Offering seating can have so many positive effects.  It can help relax customers who may otherwise become frustrated. It also creates comfortability, and if there’s one thing that generates sales (and all important lifetime value), it is having customers feel comfortable in your store.


Of course holiday sales are important as well! Essentially, if you are in retail, you’ll need to have some sort of sale during the holidays. Make sure that you follow simple rules on sales merchandising from your signage right through to your checkout.

Lasting Impression

Using these tips, your retail store will have all of the basics of holiday merchandising. Remember to keep it fresh from year to year. As a final--and lasting thought, consider using special shoppers for holiday sales. This little extra goes a long way--all the way home with the customer--and can also be very helpful with repeat customers and lifetime value.

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