Last-Minute Christmas Checklist
Ready or not, Christmas will soon be here. Have you made your list and checked it twice? Here are five tasks to focus on, with tips from your fellow retailers, to make sure your store is ready!
1. Put Up Christmas Decorations
Get shoppers in the Christmas spirit with the sights, sounds and scents of the season.
Create a festive mood inside and outside your store: “Christmas should be a joyful experience for everyone who walks through your doors, and it’s not just about selling merchandise. At the Sower, we strive to create an atmosphere where people can celebrate Christ and the Christmas season inside and outside our store. We decorate the outside with a large nativity, lights, music, bells, angels, deer and more. Every year we try to add a new attraction. We also make the inside festive as well with trees, Christ-centered ornaments, signs and Christmas decorations.”-Jennifer Lewis, Sower Bible Bookstore, Coeur d'Alene, ID
Appeal to all the senses: “We always make sure the store is festive with Christmas trees that display beautiful ornaments for sale. We also specialize in burning oils and lamps. We burn a different fragrance daily to set the atmosphere.” -Cheryl Woodard, Vision Christian Store, Clinton, MD
2. Put Out Christmas Merchandise
Target early Christmas shoppers with Advent items, nativities, boxed cards, home décor and more.
Order early: “We need to make sure we have Fontanini and Willow Tree nativity pieces on hand ahead of time. We've also had to order and have shipped our normal Christmas items earlier than usual due to the current shipping delays resulting from COVID, so Advent calendars, Advent candles, children's Christmas books, Christmas ornaments are all making their way to the shop before September!” -Kelli Malm, Christian Connection, Sycamore, IL
Stock up on necessities: “Pre-planning is important for Christmas. There are some Christ-centered items that we sell every year, so we try to make sure we are stocked. Some of them include a variety of nativities, plastic children’s nativities, Advent wreaths, Advent candles, Advent calendars, ornaments, signs, flags, etc. We also contact local churches ahead of time to see what they will need for the Christmas season.” -Jennifer Lewis, Sower Bible Bookstore, Coeur d'Alene, ID
Be prepared: “We have extra inventory of items that sell through during the holidays. One of our biggest items are boxed Christmas cards—we sell tons of them. We also sell lots of Bibles, and we imprint more Bibles during the Christmas season than any other season.” -Cheryl Woodard, Vision Christian Store, Clinton, MD
3. Plan Your Marketing Materials
Don’t miss out on catalog marketing, which allows your competitors to have the advantage, but also consider other avenues of marketing.
Schedule your social media: “What is your marketing plan for the six weeks leading up to Christmas? Plan it out and preload your social media posts so you don’t have to think about them later.” -Susan Chipman, The Café and Bookstore at Granger Community Church, Granger, IN
Advertise on radio: “Increased radio advertising with sales and special events is great to increase foot traffic.” -Cheryl Woodard, Vision Christian Store, Clinton, MD
4. Prepare Your Promotions
Make necessary arrangements for in-store events, special sales and outreach opportunities, such as hosting a packing party for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.
Reward VIP shoppers: “How will you acknowledge your VIP guests? Handwritten thank you cards? Special VIP hours and perks? It doesn’t have to be a discount . . . maybe a swag bag.” -Susan Chipman, The Café and Bookstore at Granger Community Church, Granger, IN
Partner with your community: “The downtown does a Chocolate Walk the first Thursday of December, and we have partnered with a local tea company, who provides our customers with chocolate chai tea samples as they shop and enjoy chocolate from the local business. Every year, we have people asking if we will be having chocolate chai tea again weeks before the event happens! Normally this event lasts only a few hours, but last year to limit traffic in store, we extended the hours, and in my opinion, actually made the event even better!” -Kelli Malm, Christian Connection, Sycamore, IL
Host other organizations: “We don’t have annual Christmas events; however, we are always open to hosting church groups, children’s groups, singing groups and others who want to raise money and add to the fun.” -Jennifer Lewis, Sower Bible Bookstore, Coeur d'Alene, ID
5. Put Together Staffing
Check your schedule for staff availability and adjust for extended shopping hours and extra help needed.
Train staff to be sensitive: “Although Christmas is a happy time for most people, please be sensitive to those customers who struggle this time of year for various reasons like loneliness, death of a relative or close friend, medical situations, financial problems and more. No matter how busy your store is, be available to minister and pray with those customers.” -Jennifer Lewis, Sower Bible Bookstore, Coeur d'Alene, ID CRA