2021 Holiday Selling Guide: Tips to Prepare for Holiday Sales

2021 Holiday sellingSeason is expected to be big for small retailers across the nation. 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 especially important as holiday shoppers are being advised to shop early. 2020 holiday shopping season

It might appear impossible for small retailers to succeed in 2021 with so many obstacles. Holiday sellingPlan ahead of the holiday rush. 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 company should approach the next year. Holiday sellingTo maximize sales in the season 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. Get ready for holidaySellIncrease sales this season

Table of Contents

      • General Merchandise Business Statistics
      • Apparel and Footwear Business Statistics
      • 2020 Holiday Sales Growth By Generation
      • 2020 Holiday Digital Marketing Strategy Initiatives
      • Functionality and useful features for small businesses
      • 1. Multiply your promotional tactics
      • 2. Small Business Saturdays: Benefit from Small Business Saturdays
      • 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. Preparing for 2022: Analyze Season End 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 How many holiday shoppers shop online?? Adobe Insights Digital has recorded holiday sales of online during 2020. $188.2 Billion, 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.

We learned a lot from 2020 Holiday sellingSaison

Many brick-and-mortar business owners were faced with the challenge of adapting to new pandemic regulations. Holiday selling Ecommerce StrategieTo keep your business running smoothly and to reach existing and new customers. This is especially true when there was a temporary lockdown or businesses were required to operate with less staff or store hours. However, many companies found that this increased focus on ecommerce alongside brick-and-mortar shops paid off. 

The small retailers we interviewed reported that those selling online as well as in-person saw 75% more sales in 2020 than those who sold only in person. This compares to people who only sell in person, who saw only a 50% rise in sales, even if they had any sales growth. 

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. 

Statistics on general merchandise businesses

The majority (75%) of general merchandise retailers we studied saw holiday sales primarily via ecommerce. But, they sold most of their products in-store as well 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 the apparel and footwear industry

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% of them improved their checkout experience on their site, while 80% added mobile payments, such as Apple Pay. Payment options.

TipLooking for an? System for apparel point-of-sale (POS)It can speed up your stocking, organization, and sale of products this holiday season. With Small Biz Sense’s omnichannel fashion retail POS solution, you can sell both online and in-person with ease this year.

Generational growth in holiday sales for 2020

Illustration of 2020 holiday sales growth by generation.

We also examined the growth of 2020 holiday sales, based on owners of small retail businesses in various generations.

  • 52% of Boomer homeowners saw an increase of holiday sales at least 50% in 2019 compared with 2019.
  • 75% Gen X owners experienced a holiday season increase of at least half the amount compared to 2019.
  • 75% saw an increase in holiday sales for their businesses of at least half the amount compared to 2019. 
  • 64% of Gen Z-owners saw an increase of holiday season sales at minimum 50% over 2019, compared with 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. For example, they integrate their products with mobile coupon apps and offer price comparisons. 

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. Ecommerce holiday sales strategies43% of Small Biz Sense customers used this technique Social mediapost as an Ecommerce Holiday MarketingOnly 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. Payed ads are similar to organic social media posts. They can reach new audience members, increase content sharing and improve brand recognition. Customers also utilized WhatsApp promotions, local events and advertisements in magazines. 

Small Biz Sense useful features and functionality

Small Biz Sense functionality and features, OurThese were the most helpful for customers during 2020’s holiday season.

  • 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. Customers could review stock, analyze customer experience and evaluate staff performance with this suite of tools.
  • That’s 14% Omnichannel LoyaltyIt was extremely useful and allowed customers to be rewarded through their ecommerce shop just like in-store.

14% Found Manage OrdersIt 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 the 2021 Olympics holiday salesSaison

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

These are the 9 things you can do to get ready for the holiday season in 2021.

Equip with 2020 Holiday selling season data above, it’s time to prepare for the 2021 holiday season ahead using the nine tips below. To help with your digital and selling strategies, you can break the season down into holiday or event categories. 

Take, for example, Thanksgiving/Black FridayIn 2020, Thanksgiving was the most lucrative holiday for small retailers (nearly half of those surveyed chose it).Black FridayThese holidays are the most lucrative for them, with 23% choosing Christmas/Hanukkah. Make sure you plan ahead. Cyber Monday is also available. Super Saturday shoppingIt is important that you prepare early for these things. 

TipYou can check out This holiday readiness guide will help you discover the 10 best ways to prepare for your holidays. Get ready for Black Friday and Cyber TuesdayThis 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 growthTo engage and motivate customers to shop online or in person, Our survey revealed that small retailers saw an increase of sales in the holiday season 2020. They used loyalty programs to encourage repeat customers (60%), gave a gift with every purchase (53%), or provided sweepstakes and giveaways (48%). 

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

  • 48% of customers used percent savings. 
  • 41% of respondents used loyalty programs. 
  • Coupon codes used at 36% 
  • 22 percent of customers did not use any promotional techniques.

2. Small Business Saturdays: Benefits

illustration of the top benefits from Small Business Saturday.

Your location is 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 BillionDuring this holiday. 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 increased holiday sales in 2020 contributed some of that growth to their promotion for this holiday. 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 MediaYou can use your accounts to maximize their value to help promote your brand. Whether you’re posting to TikTok or running ads on Facebook, Social mediaPotential customers can easily find your company online, and see the holiday specials you offer. 

It’s also important to increase your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts andMarketing with contentYou should publish the holiday information on your website before each one. 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. 

Important: Holiday selling tips for ecommerceThe key is to determine the keywords customers are looking for and align your site’s optimization 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 survey revealed that small retailers were able increase their ecommerce sales by at least 75% in 2020. Holiday sellingSeason by being online.      

  • 81% of respondents created or redesigned a website. Social mediaFor their company, please visit the following page. 
  • 82% have updated their website Social mediaTo post information on their pandemic business, visit page 
  • 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. Give COVID-19 Sanitization Information in advance

 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. Update your Google My Business, social media, and business websites with current COVID-19 information. 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% of these posts were made on social media. 
  • 76% more posters were placed outside of their shops. 
  • 71% additional information is available on the website. 
  • 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 figures. You should pay close attention to what you have sold for major holidays such as Thanksgiving/Black Friday These figures can be used to estimate the inventory that you’ll need.

TipInstead of using complicated, data-heavy spreadsheets to determine your holiday budget for the year, use these simple, straightforward tips. 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.

After you have established your holiday budget, make sure your brick-and-mortar and ecommerce stores are fully stocked with the most sought-after items for each holiday. 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, ask vendors about discounts or longer payment terms. You don’t have the time or resources to purchase all of your merchandise, so you should only stock top-selling or current trending items.

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 increased inventory overall, while 58% chose to increase only certain items.  

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). 

The businesses that we reviewed offered unique in-store and online services, including the possibility to pick up your items curbside or allowing customers to shop outdoors. 

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 spikes. We also found the following key facts about small retail stores and holiday shopping options:

  • Additional local delivery options available at 54% 
  • For online orders, 52% of the QR codes were added in-store.
  • 52% of gift certificates/certificates are incorporated. 
  • Virtual shopping consultations are now 41% more.

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. Ecommerce holiday sales strategiesFor small retailers. 

The small retail stores that we studied saw an average 75% increase in sales

  • 94% reported that their customers were using the new payment methods more often than they did before..
  • A cashless payment policy was implemented by 81%.
  • Accepted BNPL Financing Options: 59%.
  • 76% of the businesses that were surveyed accepted mobile payments such as Apple Pay.

8. Leverage mobile devices

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

A seamless design Shopping ExperienceIt doesn’t matter what age your customer is, caring for them more than ever has never been more important. Online shoppingYou 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 trillionAccording to Statista mobile commerce will dominate holiday shopping in 2021, as more people use their phones to shop for holidays than their laptops and desktop computers. 

These are the two most crucial. Ecommerce holiday sales strategiesYou can have a responsive website that is mobile-friendly and spend some advertising money on mobile-oriented sites. Social Mediaplatforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, 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 customers the ability to shop online and pick up in-store. 18% even provided mobile-first coupons.

9. Preparing for 2022: Analyze the season’s end 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. In terms of staff management, 60% of employees worked as expected, and 50% were under-budget. 

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 Ecommerce holiday sales strategiesHow can you prepare for customer demand and what your small retail store should do? Get our free guide. Holiday Trends Report 2020: What SMB Retailers Should KnowRegister today for the Insider’s Guide. 

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, reduce costs, and help create efficient business processes. retail store manager reportsScale operations and offer exceptional customer experience


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.