It’s hard to ignore the incessant ads… Black Friday sales galore, stores rushing to open their doors before we’ve even digested our turkey dinners. It’s the official start of the holiday shopping season and has been known to be the busiest holiday shopping day since 2005.
While we often think of this day as the point at which retail stores start to make a profit, are “in the black” so to speak, this is a more modern invention. The name was first connected to shopping crowds by Philadelphia cops in the 1960s, used to describe the heavy and disruptive traffic that appeared on the day after Turkey Day.
Despite the uncertain economy, the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Sandy and the vagaries of the “fiscal cliff”, the National Retail Federation is forecasting a 4.1 increase in holiday sales over 2011. This number may well be impacted by the increasing anger and disappointment of customers; not to mention the natural uneasiness people have to commercialism taking over a holiday always set aside for family, feasting and football.
And while you might not be able to match the deep discounts and special sales, not to mention the increasingly early opening times, of those big name retail stores, there are some unique ways your own business can observe Black Friday.
- Try to match your hours to surrounding store hours, as closely as possible. Even if you open an hour earlier, stay open an hour later, anything you do to help customers during this busy shopping season will be appreciated.
- Offer a service to customers or prospective ones that recognizes how busy they are this time of year. Stress relief is also a big thing, so anything you can offer to aid in this will be remembered, appreciated.
- Offering special discounts or payment terms, in recognition of the tighter budgets customers have during the holidays, can be a wonderful option.
- Stock up on unique items, offer time sensitive discounts, or try a creative ad campaign that sets you apart. You can tout your small size, your unique offerings, or special services (wrapping, delivery, lay-away) that bigger places can’t match.
- Don’t forget that Small Business Saturday, launched by American Express in 2012, comes the very next day to help draw awareness and improve sales at smaller, local stores. It can be a welcome alternitive to the hassel of the mall… almost like a local street fair.
Remember, at this time of year, it’s all about gratitude. Saying thank you. Letting those in your life (both business and personal) know you’re grateful for them. Thinking about the many things you personally have to be grateful for, what’s made your life better, richer, more wonderful. Now’s the time to share these thoughts with others.
When it comes to your business, one of the simplest, and therefore more affordable, ways to show appreciation is the not yet out of style thank you note. Nothing shows the value you put on something like taking the time to hand write (and yes, they must be handwritten) a note that includes a genuine sentiment. Use simple, quality stationary and a pen that isn’t prone to smudging or fading. Emails are acceptable in certain circumstances, though hand written and delivered by regular mail is still best.
Naturally, if you want to take things a step further, there are any number of promotional products (ours included, of course) that add that extra something to a “thank you” message… a lasting reminder of your business.