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10 Tips to Improve Your Holiday Merchandising Strategy

The holidays are busy with the excitement and stress of parties, Christmas concerts, and making a list and checking it twice. However, it’s also your chance to be the holiday hero. Knock your sales out of the park and ensure happy gift-givers and receivers by offering the best experience to your customers this season.

Here are ten tips to get you thinking about how you can up your holiday merchandising game (without making it look like Santa’s workshop exploded all over your space):

1. The holidays are a perfect time for a shop makeover.

If you want your brand to stay fresh and festive, your shop needs to look different to your repeat customers. Changing your shop displays encourages guests to take their time exploring new items and things they may have missed.

2. If you want to decorate for the holidays, keep it classy and on brand.

Serving food? You don’t want to have stray glitter or faux snow getting into those treats. Selling ornaments? Decorating a tree makes sense. Class up your space by adding some twinkling lights, holiday stars, or tastefully wrapped gifts. Consider that if you are only putting a tree up to say ‘Christmas,’ it’s probably best to eliminate it.

3. If you have specific holiday-themed merchandise (ie. Christmas ornaments, items with holiday sayings, red and green), you want it all out on the floor for sale now.

It is better to be sold out of holiday merchandise by December 20th than have to discount it in January or store it for the next season.

4. Present your products so that your customers can imagine them in their holiday home.

This is the time to think about holiday entertaining, gift-giving, or giving the best hostess gift to Aunt Beatrice. Create scenes or vignettes of how your goods can translate a home into the ultimate holiday space.

A few examples:

  • Display a cheese board that would make the perfect appetizer for a gathering, including a wine stopper, coasters, and monogrammed glassware.
  • Feature a Christmas tree with your themed ornaments so that your customers can easily replicate your beautiful work with your products.
  • Use fragrance and essential oil diffusers to evoke cozy themes and feelings of being around the fireplace.

5. Take stock of all the items in your store that are $30 or less, and display these items in the front of your shop.

‘Tis the season of the stocking stuffer! Lower-priced items that make perfect stocking stuffers are the best way to increase your average sale and ensure your customer has something for everyone on their list.

6. Signage is key.

As your shop gets busier and you have more and more guests, it can be hard to give every customer the white-glove service every time. Provide useful signage to help guide your customers throughout your shop:

Some examples:

  • “Perfect for Dad’s stocking!”
  • “For your work BFF”
  • “Forget apples, here’s a treat for teacher”
  • “For the ‘hard to buy for’ on your list”
  • “For your hostess with the mostess”
  • “Best gifts under $50”

7. Display complementary items that make the perfect gift.

Give your customers ideas for complete gifts by displaying complementary items together. This will make your guest’s time much more efficient and encourage them to buy more than one item.

8. If possible, provide beautiful ‘under the tree ready’ gift wrapping.

During busy times, it can be challenging to gift wrap on the spot, so invite your guest to check out other shops or go treat themselves to a snack or a beverage, and come back later for their wrapped gift.

9. Keep alternatives to your ‘best sellers’ top of mind.

If someone comes in looking for a specific gift at the last minute, you may be sold out. So at the start of each day, take a good look at your current stock and be ready to speak to what is available for your customers’ to take home.

10. Remember, the more time people spend in your shop, the more they buy.

This is a time to invite your customers to take their time and have an enjoyable experience. Add a coat rack so that customers can shop comfortably. Offer them a cup of cider or a treat to enjoy as they look around (and make sure you have a garbage can so they can toss the cup when they are done).

The big takeaway: Make shopping a pleasurable (and efficient) experience for your customers. You have the power to take the stress out of shopping for the holidays by considering your customers’ needs and going the extra mile to show your appreciation for them. Be your kindest, most engaged self, set up your shop thoughtfully for gift-giving, and know that your goods are going to bring many smiles on Christmas morning!


Amanda Wagner is the founder of The Complement. The Complement trains retailers and service providers to offer the best customer experience to their guests. By offering teams tailored merchandising strategies, sales techniques, and customer engagement for their brand, The Complement exists to foster meaningful relationships and encourage customer loyalty and ambassadorship.