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It’s Never Too Early: Start Your Holiday Planning Now

Studies have shown that the days of starting Christmas shopping on December 1st are officially over. In fact, some studies report that nearly 40 percent of people start their Christmas shopping before November; while nearly 70 percent start before December.

For retailers, this means it’s more critical than ever to start your holiday planning for gift card sales now—because your customers are likely to be in a Christmas buying mood before their pumpkin spice lattes are even cold.

Thinking Halloween

Helping your holiday shoppers spend more money with your business isn’t as simple as just putting Christmas things out early. In recent years, many consumers have pushed back against “Christmas creep,” that feeling that the holidays seem to start earlier and earlier every year, even before Halloween. Several large retailers, like Target for example, committed to fight Christmas creep by taking time to celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving before decorating for Christmas.

What does this mean for your store? Try not to push holiday deals too early in October. Do just enough to get shoppers thinking of them without feeling rushed. Try a promotion involving discounted gift cards. You can remind customers who are doing fall shopping that discounted gift cards are available for purchase. They can either save the cards to give as gifts later or use them to do their own holiday shopping.

Checkout is usually a good time to offer this option. Make it easy for customers to tack on a gift card or two when buying other items. To make it especially easy, display your gift cards at the register.

Thinking Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. While many retailers have traditionally offered bargains on things like electronics and home appliances, more and more are offering bargains on gift cards as well. Last year for example, Apple offered $150 in gift cards with the purchase of select Apple gear.

The beauty of Black Friday gift card promotions isn’t just that they motivate customers to make the initial purchase—it’s that they keep customers (and their friends and families) coming back. The $150 in Apple gift cards meant that customers came back to spend more with Apple throughout the holiday season and afterward.

Thinking Christmas

Black Friday may be a huge shopping day, but for many retailers the entire month of December generates significantly more revenue than any other month. And it presents many opportunities to boost sales. One of these opportunities is the last Saturday before Christmas, which many refer to as “Super Saturday” or “Panic Saturday.” That Saturday typically nets billions in retail sales in the United States.

Super Saturday is a great opportunity to use gift cards to boost holiday sales. Shoppers on Super Saturday are feeling the pressure of a time crunch. They are down to last minute for holiday shopping. They’ve missed shipping deadlines and are often focused on the last few items on their shopping lists—usually for the most hard-to-shop-for people. Gift cards (especially e-gift cards or cards that can be printed) don’t have to be shipped. And they’re a great solution for “the person who already has everything.”

As the end of December nears, make sure that your gift cards are clearly visible in your store. Display them right at the entrance and at the checkout counter. Mention them to customers who are holiday shopping. If you make gift cards available on line, make sure you clearly feature them on your website as well.

It’s Never Too Early…

In summary, it’s never too early to start thinking about holiday shopping. Having a clear plan in place can mean a boost to holiday gift card sales. Even small details, like card placement or strategic deals early in the season, can lead to a big payoff.