How to Avoid the Post-Holiday Sales Slump

Happy New Year! One of the best holiday shopping seasons in recent years is over, and many merchants are reaping the benefits. They’re also trying to figure out how to keep the momentum going into the winter months. Here are some ways to avoid the post-holiday sales slump. 

For years, after-Christmas sales have probably been the most popular and often-used tactic to keep shoppers shopping after the holidays. The sales go by many names: After-Christmas Sale, Winter Clearance, et cetera. Whatever they’re called, consumers looking for deals often don’t stop shopping after Christmas day. 

A 2016 survey by the National Retail Federation found that 48% of consumers planned to take advantage of after-Christmas sales, and 44% planned to surf the internet looking for post-holiday bargains. So, merchants looking to ring in the new year should continue their marketing and merchandising push well into January.

Keep the Holidays Going 

Holiday sales don’t have to stop just because it’s January. Sales can include incentives for redeeming holiday gift cards and coupons. Getting customers to return following the holiday sales often results in additional purchases of associated products or necessities that were neglected during the Christmas buying spree. 

The early weeks of January are a time of returned and exchanged merchandise. Many retailers offer discounts to customers who make purchases when they’re returning or exchanging Christmas gifts.  

Merchandise exchanges are a great opportunity for upselling and cross-selling, as well. A customer exchanging a ski jacket for a different size might also be interested in ski pants, gloves, hats or equipment. It offers an avalanche of possibilities. 

New Year’s Deals 

One novel way of attracting customers in January is to appeal to the New Year’s resolution makers. People often use resolutions to remove themselves from the shopping and gluttony of the holidays, treating January as a time of renewal. 

The most popular resolutions are to: eat healthier, lose weight and save more money. Retailers can easily market to these desires and they don’t have to be a health food store, gym or bank to do so. 

Pharmacies can punch up their focus on dietary supplements, vitamins, smoking cessation products, and health and fitness-related over-the-counter items.  

Hardware stores can sell the new year as a great time to refresh a home. Add fresh coat of paint, inside or out. Clean and organize a garage or storage room or shed. Convert an unused bedroom into a home gym. 

The same ideas can be extended to your website. 

“Every January, new resolutions top the lists in organic searches — such as ‘get healthy,’ ‘get organized’ and ‘live life to the fullest.’ Those keywords aren’t a secret. Do some research on the search terms most used in Q1 months, look for natural fits to your brand and how they connect to your customers, and build a plan to nurture those needs,” said Jeannie Ruesch, of xero.com and the Forbes Communications Council. 

New Year’s Rewards 

If your store doesn’t have a customer loyalty program, or your holiday marketing plan didn’t include one, it’s a good idea to implement one. Research shows that it costs anywhere from five to 25 times more to gain a new customer than to keep an existing customer. And regular, loyal customers spend 67% more than new customers. 

While they’re making all those holiday sales, tech-savvy merchants are also collecting valuable data on both sales and their customers through their point of sale and customer rewards programs. January is a good time to put that information to use and reach out to customers. 

Reaching out to rewards program members after the holidays can boost January sales numbers and spark collateral purchases, as well. Sophisticated digital business platforms can utilize POS data and reach out to customers in a loyalty program through a variety of methods. Email and text message offers are essentially cost-free to send and strengthen customer loyalty while adding to the bottom line. 

The 2018 Bond Loyalty Report says 71% of members say their loyalty program is a meaningful part of their relationship with stores, 77% are more likely to remain a loyal customer, and 63% tend to buy more to increase loyalty program rewards. January is a great time to flex your loyalty program muscles. 

“Rewards programs are an incredibly important tool in customer retention. All the big-box retailers and most of the major brands offer loyalty programs. For merchants without access to these programs, companies that provide point of sale systems and business management services offer solutions that give retailers the same customer loyalty program features as the chain stores,” says Dan Nesmith, founder and president of Paladin Data Corporation which provides point of sale and digital business platforms to independent retailers. 

Look for Reasons to Celebrate 

Bet you didn’t know that in addition to New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Day, January is also home to: 

National Hangover Day

(an obvious association with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day)
Jan 1

Festival of Sleep Day and Fruitcake Toss Day

Jan. 3

National Spaghetti Day

Jan. 4

Houseplant Appreciation Day

Jan. 10

National Pharmacist Day

Jan. 12

Dress Up Your Pet Day

Jan. 14

National Popcorn Day

Jan. 19

Beer Can Appreciation Day

Jan. 24

Spouse’s Day

Jan. 26

Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day

Jan. 28

…and many more. 

There are 31 days in January and it’s easy to find something to celebrate. 

You can also look to celebrate the birthdays of famous people and feature items that made them notable. 

Paul Revere and Betsy Ross

american flags
Jan 1

Elvis Presley

music, guitars and pop culture items
Jan. 8

George Foreman

great for electric grills
Jan. 10

Andre Michelin

tires and wheels
Jan. 16

Benjamin Franklin

stoves, bifocals, swim fins 
Jan. 17

Vidal Sassoon

hair products
Jan. 17

Boris Spassky

chess sets
Jan. 30

Jackie Robinson

baseball equipment
Jan. 31

If you can’t find something to celebrate and market, you’re not looking hard enough.

Post-Holiday Outreach 

Another way to keep the holiday momentum going is to use all that sales data collected during the run-up to Christmas to reach out to customers. Email lists tend to swell during the run-up to Christmas and loyalty program members most likely rang up some valuable points, so January is the perfect time to stay in touch. 

Digital marketing through an email campaign keeps your business top of mind. The post-holiday period is a great time to remind loyalty members of all those points they racked up in November and December. Merchants can also start fishing for new loyalty members with all those new email addresses they gathered. 

Sophisticated business platforms with customer relations integrations can help merchants send marketing and advertising messages to new and loyal customers. During the holidays, customers are often buying gifts for family and friends. January is a good time for personalized offers to get themselves a gift they might not have gotten for Christmas. 

Take Down the Holiday Decorations 

Savvy merchants with active digital marketing dress up their websites, along with their stores, with holiday decorations and offers. January is the time to renew and refresh websites and email campaigns. 

Consider repackaging the holiday leftovers into fresh, new offerings. Instead of after-Christmas bargains, anything short of an ugly Christmas sweater can be packaged into New Year’s or winter sales.

Invest in the New Year 

Merchants should also not be afraid to spend some of those year-end profits to keep the holiday mojo going. When planning an advertising budget consider investing heavily in January. The results can set you apart from competition that might go into winter hibernation. 

No matter how you choose to start the new year, treating it as an opportunity can get your year off to a profitable start.

Brian Bullock

Author