Although inflation has thrown the budget of many British Columbians’ in the air, it is still expected to be a busy holiday shopping season. To prepare, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) suggests that local businesses make adjustments to their typical holiday plans.
This year, BC residents will spend an average of $887 on holiday purchases, according to the latest report by the Retail Council of Canada (RCC). This is the highest average for a province or territory compared to the rest of the country, at $792 overall.
Despite financial challenges, the majority of consumers (6 out of 10) will spend more time than last year searching and buying in physical stores, according to the RCC study. In fact, BC residents are most likely to have a loose budget or no budget at all (46% vs 38% nationally).
While 8 in 10 consumers intend to buy gifts for others this year, 62% say their gift giving habits have changed over the years, with the main difference being that they are looking to buy more meaningful gifts for fewer people.
“As the holiday shopping season ramps up, we want businesses to be prepared for what Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers expect,” says Simone Lis, President and CEO of BBB serving Mainland BC. “It’s crucial now more than ever for retailers to make the shopping experience as seamless as possible for consumers.”
Here are BBB’s top five tips to help local businesses be the most prepared for the holiday season:
Create a plan of action early. The holiday season is quickly ramping up, which means it’s time to start planning and setting goals. The forecast for consumer behavior may not be crystal clear, but you can still make sure shelves are stocked and you are promoting products that fit with your consumers’ current reality. Keep in mind your chain of supply may continue to be affected as it was through the pandemic, so plan accordingly.
Hiring for the holidays? Stay flexible. Trends show that shoppers are being more practical with their purchases and have transitioned to doing curbside pick-up or are exclusively shopping online. Carefully consider the staffing levels you need to meet the needs of customers while still managing the well-being of your employees as well. Make sure seasonal staff is thoroughly trained and therefore able to continue to provide exceptional service. Also, set up clear policies outlining how you will handle notifications if one of your staff becomes sick.
Improve your online presence. There is one thing you can be sure of this holiday season: most businesses are still seeing reduced in-store purchases and increased online sales, which is why you need a strong online presence. Make sure your website and online shop are up-to-date and running smoothly. Be sure to work out any bugs before holiday shopping really picks up. Consider investing in online advertising or social media marketing to support your holiday sales push.
Consider flexible payment options. PayPal, a BBB Accredited Business, encourages business owners to take a proactive approach this holiday season by embracing digital payments and flexible payment options for consumers, to keep sales coming in. Cut down on physical contact by going cashless. You can also keep your customers and employees safe by offering contactless payment options like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and QR codes.
Try a pop-up shop. Open-air pop-up shops (if your local weather permits) or indoor pop ups are becoming a popular way to sell goods and services while keeping brick and mortar costs down for businesses. If your community has a weekly open-air market, or if a local retailer is willing to share space for a weekend, see if it could be a worthwhile way to increase your sales.
For more information on holiday tips, visit BBB.org/Holiday.