Articles for Retailers - Kizer & Bender

It’s Time to Haul Out the Holly!

December is the best month to be a retailer. Stores are dressed for the holidays, and shelves are brimming with irresistible product. Happy customers come in with lists, looking for the perfect gifts, and pick up a little something extra for themselves. Sales are brisk, and that’s a good thing.
We’re especially busy in December. One of our favorite things to do is shop. We hit the streets the week before Thanksgiving and never look back until early January. We stand in the shadows and watch customers shop. For hours at a time. We are always intrigued by what they do in stores and what they tell us in exit interviews. The medias are interested, too. In December, reporters come at us from all sides, asking about stores and shoppers, and retailing in general. Sometimes we even take a reporter shopping with us. It’s is always a good time.

We look forward to the traditional and off-the-wall things retailers do to attract shoppers and keep them in the store longer. Every retailer has a trick or two up their sleeves. We’re sure that you do too, but if you haven’t quite tackled that list of things to do to spin your doors this holiday season, there’s still time.

Step outside and consider your store front. Is the customer’s first impression clean and clear of debris? Are your window displays set for the holidays or are they pretty much the same as they were during back-to-school? Does your window signing properly represent your brand image? And have you set the appropriate amount of holiday decor throughout the store to put customers in a shopping mood?

Set the stage beginning just inside the front door. Customers should be immediately embraced by your store’s ambiance. Your sales floor should smell like the holidays, so pick up a few scent diffusers in holiday flavors and place them throughout the store; especially near the store front, so the fragrance impacts customers walking in. Visit for more information on Aromacology. ScentAir sells diffusers in just about every fragrance at inexpensive prices. You know that old retail adage: If it smells, it sells!

Another part of your store’s ambiance embrace is music. The right music can actually make customers stay in the store longer and spend more money while they are there. Holiday music should ring throughout your store because it sets the mood for shopping.

Set your Speed Bump displays to sell. Place Speed Bumps – small fixtures or tables loaded with product – just beyond your Decompression Zone. Speed Bumps stop busy shoppers and redirect their focus to your merchandise. Merchandise them with a variety of great gift items shoppers can’t pass up. Pre-wrapped gifts are also a good idea.

Change your Speed Bumps at least once a week, more often if your store is heavily shopped. This sounds like a lot of work, but it’s not. Simply moving items from one place to another makes the product look brand new to shoppers.

Cross-merchandise everywhere you can. You’ll definitely want to use this technique on your Speed Bump displays! Cross-merchandising complementary product together saves shoppers time by making it easy to visualize how the items will work or used together. Cross-merchandise items on clip-strips throughout your store and you’ll encourage add-on purchases and increase your average sale.

Set your End Features to sell with product customers can’t pass up: new items, hot deals, and value buys. Try to display three items or less per end feature, and use Vertical Merchandising – product displayed in vertical rows – as your primary display technique.  Vertical Merchandising exposes customers to a greater variety of merchandise at every eye level; when shoppers see more, they tend to buy more.

Do you know why the Walmart greeter offers customers a shopping cart when they walk in the front door? Because customers with carts will spend 25 percent more than they originally intended to spend, and up to 15 minutes longer in the store.

Highlight gift cards with carefully placed in-store signing and encourage store associates to talk them up. Gift card sales are on the rise; that’s good because they bring customers to your store. Studies show that 80 percent of customers spend more than face value of the gift card, and 40 percent of customers spend more than twice the face value of the card. You can’t lose!

Encourage impulse purchases at the cash wrap. Women are infamous for making purchases on impulse, that’s why your cash wrap should be stocked with small displays of product that catches her eye. Put the wall behind your cash wrap counter to work with a fabulous display of gift items, and set fixtures near the cash wrap so customers can continue to shop while they wait in line to pay for their purchases.

We wish the strong December sales lasted all year long, but they don’t; you only have a limited amount of time to make your Golden Quarter golden. Take advantage of the gift-buying frenzy while you can, take this checklist out to your sales floor and do a complete walk-thru. Note which areas to change, set your priorities, and get to work.  And if you need a pep talk, we’re just a telephone call away!

Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the U.S. You can learn more at