‘Tis the season to be ready — to welcome hordes of holiday shoppers into your retail store. Statista reports that in 2020 alone, U.S. consumers spent around 750 billion dollars on holiday merchandise, and that number is only expected to increase.

Heading into this celebratory season, people are eager to spend some serious cash and they might as well spend it with you. Here are some steps you can take to prepare your store for the retail holiday season and maximize your fall and winter sales.

Order Your Holiday Merchandise Ahead of Time

The sooner you order the merchandise you intend to sell, the more likely you are to have it available in time for the holidays. This is good advice no matter the year, but it is especially critical when there are slowdowns in the supply chain.

Make Room for Holiday Stock

Clean and organize your backroom to make way for the seasonal items you’ve ordered. If you don’t have enough room to store them along with your regular stock, consider temporarily renting an overflow storage container from a local company to hold the excess. This is a great option if you have a parking lot or another area where you can place it.

Adjust Your Store Hours

Think about extending your store hours to accommodate an increase in street-side foot traffic and working people who are not able to shop during “banking hours.” This will give you an advantage over any competitors that call it a day when the sun goes down.

Hire Additional Help Now

If you need extra help to check people out at your point of sale, wrap gifts or handle customer service, line them up as soon as possible. You can place ads for part-time, seasonal help online at sites like Indeed or advertise in your local newspaper. Even placing a “help wanted” sign in your window can attract local applicants looking to make some extra income during the retail holiday season.

Train New Employees Immediately

Bring your new hires up to speed as soon as possible, so they’re ready for their shifts on day one. If you can, consider holding a group training session to save on time.

Create a Retail Holiday Schedule for Employees

If you decide to stay open extra hours, you’ll need to adjust your employee work schedule to accommodate this decision. Stagger shifts out over working hours to ensure full coverage at any given time, making sure you have the most help during your busiest hours.

Decorate Your Store for the Holidays

This is the fun part, but it still takes some thought. Decorate your store according to the holiday merchandise you’re selling. Use lights, colors and props to help create an authentic feel. If you’re offerings relate to multiple holidays, be sure and pay homage to each. It’s okay to have different areas of your store dedicated to different holidays.

For example, near your Thanksgiving fare (turkeys, pie filling, spices, etc.), you could build a display of a traditional dinner table with colorful (artificial) foods of the holiday in beautiful dinnerware to get people to think about their upcoming feast (and yes, make them hungry). You can also have a large Christmas tree over by any Yuletide gifts for sale. Deck it out with shiny ornaments, tinsel, lights — the works.

Just don’t forget to promote any other applicable holidays. Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and New Year’s Day all present excellent opportunities to create awesome displays for relevant merchandise.

Update Your Website

When you put people who enter your store in a festive mood, they are more likely to make a purchase. This premise also applies if your retail store has a website. Change its graphics to celebrate the retail holiday season there, too.

Dress Up Your Storefront

People go nuts for a great window display. According to Forbes, Macy’s window displays have been inspiring shoppers since the 1870s. After — or perhaps before — you decorate your store’s interior, show your storefront the same kind of love.

Your storefront will play a large part in attracting passersby, so be sure to make it interesting. Some holiday eye candy, such as a bright New Year’s or Christmas Display, will draw people near — and hopefully inside — your retail shop. If you can make it visible from across the street, that’s even better.

Offer Promotions

Promotions, such as a BOGO (buy one, get one free), discount (save “X” percent when you buy two) or freebie with purchase (perhaps free gift tags with the purchase of so much in wrapping paper), can go a long way in drawing customers into your store. Everyone adores a good deal, so why not offer them one?

Get a Head Start on Marketing

Advertise your deals on social media. Your store should have a presence on as many social media sites as feasible, but at the very least, take advantage of one or two. If you aren’t adept at using these sites, you may have an employee who is — or you can hire one. Have them teach you how to use social media or put them in charge of your social marketing. Although, social media marketing is something you should consider using all year long.

Expand Your Payment Options

Now more than ever, consumers have a choice when deciding how to pay for their purchases. Though some people still use cash, they are becoming fewer in number. As of January 2019, three in 10 people no longer used cash at all, according to CNBC.

Many prefer to pay for purchases with a cashless option such as a credit or debit card — and they have plenty of choices when it comes to these, too. Look into accepting these forms of payment if you don’t already. Shoppers are more likely to buy an item when they know they can pay however they want. This could make the difference of some consumers buying from you instead of a neighboring establishment.

Make This the Happiest of Holiday Seasons

Committing to your retail holiday plans and making them come true can be a truly rewarding experience — not only because of the profits you’ll realize but also for the sense of accomplishment you’ll be left with. Plus, you’ll put a smile on the faces of those who come to your store. In short, you’ll make people happy. After all, isn’t that what the spirit of the holiday season is all about?

NMA is a merchant advocacy group dedicated to reducing or eliminating the unnecessary fees associated with accepting credit card payments. Since 2004, NMA’s payment processing solutions have been delivering tailored solutions, best-in-class customer service and high-quality service offerings for businesses across multiple industries.Whether it’s high-risk or low-risk, brick-and-mortar or e-commerce, NMA will create the best processing experience for your company. For more information, visit us at National Merchants Association or call us at (866) 509-7199.