2021 Holiday Selling Guide: Tips to Prepare for Holiday Sales

The 2021 Holiday sellingSmall retail stores across the country are expected to have a busy season. With the FDA’s approval of vaccines in late 2018, we are entering a post-COVID-19 period. Consumers want to relieve their pandemic stress with some retail therapy.

But this act of “revenge spending” won’t be done without careful consideration from consumers, primarily due to ongoing economic uncertainties and shoppers searching for the best deals on online ecommerce platforms and in newly re-opened brick-and-mortar stores.

This means that small business owners must have a plan in place to meet the demands of all types of shoppers this year—including providing both online and in-person Holiday selling options. This is particularly true since consumers are encouraged to start holiday shopping early as they do during the 2020 Holiday Shopping Season.

It may seem difficult to obtain a small business license in the face of so many challenges facing them in 2021. Holiday sellingYou can plan ahead for the holidays. Sometimes, it is best to think back to the past to help you prepare for the future.

Here’s a guide to help you understand how your business should handle the coming year. Holiday sellingSeason to increase sales Small Biz Sense surveyed more than 700 retail store owners—including our own retail business customers—that sold their products during the 2020 holiday shopping season.

These unique insights will be broken down, along with nine other ways that we think small retailers can succeed. Prepare for your holidaySellIncrease sales this season

Table of Contents

      • General Merchandise Business Statistics
      • Apparel and Footwear Business Statistics
      • The 2020 Holiday Sales Boom by Generation
      • 2020 Holiday Digital Marketing Strategy Initiatives
      • Small Biz Sense features and functionality that are useful
      • 1. Multiply your promotional tactics
      • 2. Small Business Saturdays: Benefits
      • 3. You have an established online presence
      • 4. Provide COVID-19 Sanitization Information Early
      • 5. Prepare Your Inventory
      • 6. Shop Accommodations
      • 7. Multiple payment options accepted
      • 8. Leverage Mobile Devices
      • 9. To prepare for 2022, Analyze the End-of Season Sales

2021 holiday sales estimates

According to Deloitte’s 2021 annual holiday retail forecast, holiday retail sales are likely to increase between 7% and 9%—reaching a staggering $1.28 to $1.3 trillion from November 2021 to January 2022. You might be interested in these statistics What percentage of holiday shoppers go online to shop?? Adobe Insights Digital reported that online sales for the holiday season in 2020 were at an all-time high of $13 billion $188.2 Billions, which accounted for two years’ worth of growth and more than 1 trillion visits to U.S.-based retail websites. With the push towards digital transformation during the pandemic, it’s no surprise that online holiday sales in 2021 are also projected to trend upward—growing by 11% to 15% year-over-year and reaching between $210 and $218 billion during the same time.

The 2020 Conference: What We Learned Holiday sellingSeason

Brick-and-mortar shops were often forced to adjust to the pandemic rules. Many turned to Holiday selling Ecommerce StrategieIt is essential to maintain business operations and be able reach new and old customers. This is especially true when there was a temporary lockdown or businesses were required to operate with reduced hours and fewer employees. This new focus on ecommerce was a win for many brick-and mortar businesses.

The small retailers we interviewed reported that those selling online as well as in-person saw 75% more sales in 2020 than those who only sold in-person (who saw only a 50% rise in sales).

Let’s break out the businesses we surveyed even further, taking a closer look at both general merchandise businesses and apparel and footwear businesses, as well as holiday sales growth by generation.

Statistical data on the general merchandise industry

We found that 75% of the general merchandise shops we interviewed saw their majority of holiday sales coming from ecommerce. However, most sold their goods both in-stores and online. In addition, 84% of these businesses saw an increase in sales in 2020 compared to 2019—and those who did saw a 50% increase in sales, on average. General merchandise stores’ biggest selling day was Black Friday

Statistics on footwear and apparel businesses

95% of the apparel and footwear businesses we surveyed increased their holiday sales in 2020 compared to 2019—and of that percentage, sales increased by an average of 25%. These businesses saw 91% more revenue from their online stores than they did in-stores.

 Illustration of what attributed to holiday retail sales.

Businesses have added 57% to help increase ecommerce sales. Shipping free52% increased curbside pickup for accommodation. 64% also improved the checkout process and 80% added mobile payment (e.g, Apple Pay etc. As payment options.

TipLooking for an? System for apparel point-of-sale (POS)This can make it easier to stock and organize your holiday products quickly. With Small Biz Sense’s omnichannel fashion retail POS solution, you can sell both online and in-person with ease this year.

Holiday sales are expected to grow by generation in 2020

Illustration of 2020 holiday sales growth by generation.

Our survey also included growth in holiday sales in 2020 based upon small retailers owners from different generations.

  • 52% of Baby Boomer-owners saw an increase in holiday sales by at least half the amount compared to 2019.
  • 75% of Gen X-owners saw an increase of holiday season sales by at least 50% compared with 2019.
  • 75% saw an increase in holiday sales for their businesses of at least half the amount compared to 2019.
  • 64% of Gen Z homeowners saw an increase in holiday sales by at least 50%, compared to 2019.

Of all the groups surveyed, Gen X business owners (58%) were the most likely to focus on consumers’ mobile devices to capitalize on ecommerce transactions. This could include integrating products with barcode scanning applications for price comparisons and offering mobile coupons.

The 2020 holiday season and customers of Small Biz Sense

Customers of Small Biz Sense also gave us unique insight into 2020 Holiday sellingThey found Small Biz Sense functionality and features most valuable for them during the holiday season.

2020 Holiday digital marketing strategyInitiatives

Digital marketing is the future. Holiday selling strategies via ecommerce43% of Small Biz Sense customers used this technique social mediaPosts as an Holiday marketing via ecommerceOnly 28% use strategy email marketing. It could be that social media platforms allowed business owners to reach new markets quickly, while email campaigns had a limited audience of addresses from email lists. What’s more, holiday-related social media posts typically have higher engagement rates than emails, as customers are more likely to share a social post with their followers than an email.

Small Biz Sense customers also use paid ads to market their holiday campaigns. Payed advertising on Facebook allowed business owners to target specific consumers that were more interested in holiday promotions. Paid ads can be used to increase brand awareness, encourage content sharing and reach new audiences much like organic social media posts. These customers also used WhatsApp promotions and community events.

Small Biz Sense useful features and functionality

Small Biz Sense Features and Functionality, OurThese are the top-rated products that customers found most valuable for their businesses during the holiday season 2020.

  • The website was found by 34% of Small Biz Sense clients. Inventory ManagementThey found this feature to be the most helpful, as it allowed them to simplify stock management and use integrated stock ordering tools.
  • This was 28% AnalyticsIt was extremely useful. The suite of tools allowed customers to analyze their stock and make decisions about customer service and employee performance.
  • That’s 14% Omnichannel LoyaltyIt was extremely useful and allowed customers to be rewarded through their ecommerce shop just like in-store.

14% Found Ord ManagementIt was extremely useful. Customers could track their orders in real time to make sure they were delivered on-time and to see where the stock was at any given moment.

How to Prepare for 2021 holiday salesSeason

illustration of ways to prepare for the 2021 holiday sales season.

See The 9 Ways to Prepare for 2021 Holiday Sales Season.

Get the 2020 Holiday selling season data above, it’s time to prepare for the 2021 holiday season ahead using the nine tips below. Before you start, break down the whole season into individual holidays and events. This will help you focus your digital marketing efforts this year.

You can take Thanksgiving as an example.Black FridayIn 2020, Thanksgiving was the most lucrative holiday for small retailers (close to 50% of those surveyed chose it).Black FridayCyber Monday is their most profitable holiday while 23% choose Christmas/Hanukkah. So plan to be there. Cyber Monday is also available. Super Saturday shoppingThese are important things to plan for in the beginning.

TipTake a look at This holiday readiness guide will help you discover the 10 best ways to prepare for your holidays. Get ready for Black Friday (and Cyber Monday)This is the year.

1. Multiply your promotion strategies

illustration on how to diversify your promotional tactics.

This year’s emphasis is on online and in-person sales, so small retailers must be flexible. Promo activities for sales growthEngage with customers online and offline and encourage them to shop. According to our survey results, small retailers that experienced an increase in holiday sales for 2020 used special deals like loyalty programs (60%), gift-with-purchase (53%), and sweepstakes (48%)

When comparing with Small Biz Sense customers’ promotional tactics, we found that:

  • Customers used 48% percent discount.
  • 41% of respondents used loyalty programs.
  • Use coupon codes for 36%
  • 22 percent of customers did not use any promotional techniques.

2. Small Business Saturday: Take Advantage

illustration of the top benefits from Small Business Saturday.

It is located between Black FridayAnd Cyber MondaySmall Business Saturday, one of the best holidays for small-business owners in the holiday season is Small Business Sunday. U.S. Consumers spent approximately $2.5 trillion on holiday shopping in America, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. $20 billion on Small Business Saturday in 2020—and from 2010 to 2019, consumers spent a total of $100 BillionThis holiday is a great opportunity to promote your business. This means there is an enormous opportunity to promote your business in advance—be it through social media posts, email marketing campaigns, or paid ads on search engines like Google—to engage with potential customers and increase sales during Small Business Saturday in 2021.

According to our survey, 75% of the businesses who saw an increase in their sales for 2020 were able to attribute some of that growth back towards promoting their business during this holiday shopping season. 92% said that their small business was promoted for Small Business Saturday. 95% of respondents thought this helped to increase sales throughout the year.

3. Establish a strong online presence

illustration of the benefits of having an established online presence.

Your online presence is crucial. Holiday selling via ecommerce. Use your 2021 Season Holiday Passport to ensure you have enough for each holiday. social mediaYour accounts can be used to the full extent of their potential for promotion. Whether you’re posting to TikTok or running ads on Facebook, Social mediaIt makes it simple for potential customers find you online and to see what holiday offers you offer.

It’s also important to increase your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts andMarketing with contentYour website should be updated before every holiday. To do this, try regularly publishing content (e.g., gift-guide blogs related to products you carry) that’s relevant to your brand and captures your customers’ attention.

A second important point Tip for holiday selling on ecommerceThe key is to determine the keywords customers are looking for and align your website with those keywords. Your site will appear more prominently in search engines results pages for keywords that you have chosen. Customers can also find you easier when shopping.

Our research shows that small-sized retail stores were capable of increasing ecommerce sales up to 75% during 2020. Holiday sellingSeason by being online.

  • 81% of respondents created or redesigned a website. social mediaPage for your business.
  • Over 80% of respondents updated or revised their websites Social mediaPage to share pandemic-related details about their company.
  • 63% have updated Google My Business information in order to keep their data current.

Unfortunately, 40% of the small retail businesses we surveyed who didn’t maintain an online presence during the 2020 Holiday selling season didn’t see an increase in sales.

4. Please provide COVID-19 information prior to time

 Illustration on the importance of providing COVID-19 sanitization information ahead of time.

Sanitization efforts and social distancing continue to play a big role in the success of brick-and-mortar retail businesses—and letting customers know about these efforts in advance helps to ensure they feel safe and understand what precautions are expected of them before they visit your store. Make sure you update all social media profiles, your business website and Google My Business accounts with the latest COVID-19 precautions. If you run a brick-and-mortar store, ensure this information is displayed clearly outside your store, on your front door, or in your store’s entryway.

We surveyed 94% of small retailers that experienced at least 25% sales growth during 2020 Holiday Season. Here’s how these businesses reached their customers with this info:

  • 81% have posted to social media.
  • Posters were added to 76% of the stores.
  • Their website has 71% more information.
  • Their email newsletter now contains 57% more information.

5. Prepare your inventory

illustration for the importance of preparing inventory for holiday sales.

It is important to prepare holiday-related stock in advance, particularly with the current delays in supply chains. You can start by creating a holiday budget using your 2020 sales numbers. Be sure to pay attention to the amount you made on Thanksgiving and other major shopping holidays.Black Friday Use these numbers to calculate how much inventory is required.

TipThis year’s holiday budget should not be calculated using data-intensive spreadsheets. Small Biz Sense gives you the option to ditch your spreadsheets for a one-stop retail commerce platform—saving you time and resources when preparing your inventory orders.

When you’ve established your holiday budget ensure that your online store or brick-and mortar store is stocked with popular holiday items. If possible, think about stocking merchandise that could be sold year-round if you don’t sell through it all by the end of the 2020 holiday season. Not only could this help to reduce your budget, but it could ensure you aren’t stuck with holiday inventory that won’t sell until the next holiday season.

Try to Get in touch with your suppliersIf you are interested in purchasing larger quantities of products, ask vendors for any special discounts or longer payment terms. In case you don’t have enough time or are faced with major delays in supply, it is best to concentrate on the top-selling and most popular products.

According to our survey, 97% of small retail businesses who were able to increase their inventory in advance saw an increase in sales compared to 2019—and 52% of those businesses saw an increase in sales of 75% or more. 42% of the businesses saw an increase in sales by increasing their inventory only on select items, while 58% increased overall stock.

6. Shop accommodations

 illustration of how to provide shopping accommodations.

Small retail stores must adapt quickly to the changing environment and regulations in cities as the U.S. tackles the current pandemic.

The 2020-era adapters and pivots were those who adapted their business models. Holiday selling season saw a 75% increase in sales on average, while those who didn’t only saw a 25% increase in sales (with only 50% of those businesses seeing an increase at all).

We found that the majority of the companies we interviewed offered both online and in-store options, which included outdoor shopping, free shipping, and the option to place orders online and have them delivered curbside.

They also shifted store hours to accommodate more customers and upgraded their technology—such as payment processing software and equipment—to ensure they were equipped to handle Traffic rises. Other key findings regarding the holiday shopping experiences of small retailers we studied include:

  • Additional local delivery options available at 54%
  • Online purchases can now be made with 52% more QR codes by the store.
  • Gift cards/certificates with incorporated gifts are 52%
  • Virtual Shopping Consultations: 41%

7. Multiple payment options are available

illustration of the importance of accepting several payment options.

You should make sure your customers can pay online as well as in-store using any payment method they choose, including cash and debit cards. You can also buy now and pay later options (BNPL). These are some of the best. Holiday selling strategies via ecommerceSmall retail business.

We found that 75% of small retailers saw an increase in their sales.

  • 94% of customers surveyed said that they used the new payment options significantly more than their previous ones..
  • 81% have implemented cashless payments.
  • 59% of BNPL loans accepted.
  • 76% allowed mobile payment via Apple Pay in the survey.

8. Leverage mobile devices

illustration on the importance of leverage mobile devices for holiday sales.

Create a seamless experience Shopping experienceIt doesn’t matter what age your customer is, caring for them more than ever has never been more important. Shopping onlineYou can also buy them in brick-and mortar stores. Mobile devices are becoming a more popular way for consumers to shop for holidays.

Expect mobile retail ecommerce to grow at an estimated 5% $3.56 BillionAccording to Statista mobile commerce will dominate holiday shopping in 2021, as more people use their phones to shop for holidays than their laptops and desktops.

Two of the most significant are: Holiday selling strategies via ecommerceAre you creating a mobile-friendly website that is fast and responsive? Then, spend some advertising money on mobile-oriented websites Social mediaPlatforms (e.g. Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok). You can also increase your sales by offering mobile-first incentives like coupons and price comparisons. digital marketing strategyEven more.

When reflecting on our survey, 49% of small retail businesses leveraged customer’s mobile phones during the 2020 Holiday sellingBy incorporating barcode scanning technology into mobile prices comparison applications, season is now. 24% also offered the possibility to order online, pick-up in-store and 16% provided mobile coupons.

9. To prepare for 2022, analyze the end-of season results

illustration of why you should analyze end-of-season results.

It’s never too early to get started on your Holiday sellingMake plans for next year. This means it’s important to analyze your end-of-season sales resultsAnd Reports for retailGet ahead of all inventory and productivity requirements as quickly as possible.

Our 2020 survey revealed that 94% of small businesses saw a minimum 25% rise in their sales in the 2018 holiday season. In doing so, 77% learned which products sold well and which didn’t, 55% learned how to fix productivity mistakes, and 12% learned that they didn’t have enough inventory on hand to meet consumer demand. Business owners discovered that only 60% of the estimated hours for staff management were actually as planned. However, 50% reported that their employees were working at an excessive level.

For Small Biz Sense customers, 82% found out which products sold well and which didn’t, 24% found out that the hours planned for employees were correct (while 10% found that hours were exceeded), and 28% learned from productivity mistakes.

Streamline your 2021 Holiday sellingSeason with Small BizSense

The 2021 Holiday selling season is anticipated to be one of the largest for small retail businesses, so ensuring you’re prepared for both online and in-person shoppers is more important than ever.

Interested in learning more about this year’s top Holiday selling strategies via ecommerceHow can you prepare for customer demand and what your small retail store should do? Download our Holiday Trends Report 2020: What SMB Retailers Should KnowGet the scoop today

If you’re ready to exceed your targeted sales goals this holiday season, Small Biz Sense is here to help. Small Biz Sense is your one-stop solution for all things business. It offers sophisticated software that will help you grow and protect your company. retail POS systemThis software is specifically designed to streamline sales and inventory management, so you can create more efficient customer service. retail store manager reportsScale up operations to provide outstanding customer experiences

Cyndy Lane

Cyndy is business journalist with a focus on entrepreneurship and small business. With over a decade of experience covering the startup and small business landscape, Cyndy has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, insightful and approachable journalist. She has a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners and is able to explain them in a way that is relatable and actionable for her readers.