At the height of summer, it’s hard to think about holiday season planning. But now is the time for pet retailers to put together a product and merchandising strategy that ensures the holiday sales season is a success.

The plan starts with creating a festive atmosphere with seasonal products and promotions that will increase foot traffic and sales. It’s time to get ready for fall and stretch out the holiday fun through New Year’s!

Holiday Products & Merchandising

  • Fall: Pumpkin-flavored treats and dog sweaters should be on your shelves by September. Create displays that represent the colors of fall leaves (oranges, dark reds, yellows). Add fake hay bales, scarecrows and artificial leaves and mums to tables and windows displaying fall-related merchandise. Endcaps can include fall treats or fall-themed toys. Have a local vineyard or brewery hold a tasting in the store, along with a “treat tasting” for dogs.

 

  • Halloween: Expand your fall decorating with pumpkins, bats and ghosts.  Stock Halloween costumes for pets, special “spooky” treats and biscuits, and Halloween-themed toys. Hold a trick-or-treat night, with complimentary dog treats and apple cider and spice cookies for the pet parents. Have a contest for best dog and human Halloween costume. Most importantly, give out coupons for discounts during the events.

 

  • Black Friday: The day after Thanksgiving is still one of the biggest “holiday spend” days in retail, so don’t miss out. Promote “Black Friday” specials in your store and your digital and traditional advertising. Use signage and discounts to attract customers.

Most shoppers will expect the fall theme to change to a holiday theme on Black Friday, so be ready to showcase holiday-related merchandise with decorated displays. It’s not too early to have bins, baskets and endcaps with stocking stuffer ideas. Point-of-purchase displays are an excellent way to entice impulse purchases, but keep space clear for customers to place products, their purses and other purchases.

  • Christmas, Hanukkah & Kwanzaa: Most pet parents purchase gifts for their furry friends during the holidays, so be ready to decorate and stock holiday-themed merchandise. Beds, toys, coats, sweaters, scarves, collars and treats are all hot sellers this time of year. Seasonal treats and food should be highlighted in the front of the store, along with pet-themed gift items for humans like ornaments and coffee mugs. Don’t forget to have gift cards available and consider special promotions like a free $10 gift card for every $100 in gift cards purchased.

Create a fun atmosphere with lights, Christmas trees, a menorah, wreaths, wrapped presents, stockings stuffed with treats and toys, pet photos with Santa, complimentary water and other refreshments for pets and people, and a seating area for resting. Include decorations and signage for the cultural holiday Kwanzaa.  For inspiration on holiday decorating, visit Pinterest.

Share good cheer with your customers by giving back to the community. Many pet parents will appreciate the opportunity to donate products or money to a local pet shelter. A giving tree with ornaments noting items needed for an animal rescue organization shows a community focus while increasing sales.

  • New Year’s Sales: Shoppers in the New Year are using gift cards and seeking bargains. It’s a great time to have a bargain bin, display or endcap, with leftover holiday items and products that need to move. Promote any sales via social media, signage and advertising.

Stand Out

Merchandising and promotions that help a store stand out can attract new customers.

  • Events and Promotions: Hold an “ugly dog sweater” contest and tell the local media about it (to possibly gain free promotion). How about a holiday-themed pet gift to the first 25 customers on a given day? On social media, consider a 12 Days of Christmas promotion, with a special deal each day.
  • Color: During the holidays, try out decorative colors like hot pink, lime green, teal, silver and blue (rather than the traditional red, white, gold and green).
  • Beyond Santa: Consider an appearance by the Grinch, Elf on the Shelf, Frosty the Snowman or Rudolph Red-Nosed Reindeer.
  • Gift Guides: Contact your local newspapers and magazines in the fall to see if they are doing a holiday gift guide and offer to provide unique ideas for pet parents.
  • Music: If you pipe music into your store during the holidays, change up the typical Christmas songs from time to time with some soothing New Age music or easy-listening pop tunes. Your customers may thank you and they may browse longer.

Making the season merry for customers and their pets can keep retailers’ spirits – and bank accounts – bright.