5 Ways to Win Over Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers

The countdown to Christmas has begun, and last-minute shoppers are under the wire.
last minute holiday gifts
With Christmas Day close at hand, consumers are looking for any help they can get to ensure everything is in place for a perfect holiday. (Photo: Evgeny Karandaev/Shutterstock)

Christmas Day is less than a week away. Last-minute shoppers are still scrambling to cross everything off their lists, online stores are reaching their cutoff date for holiday shipping, and the in-store holiday rush is in full swing.

For small, local businesses, consumers who wait until the eleventh hour can be the best Christmas gift of all. The busiest shopping days of December take place the week leading up to the holiday. Win over these last-minute shoppers in the “St. Nick” of time with these five tips.

Help with gift wrapping


Draw last-minute shoppers into your store by offering gift-wrapping services. (Photo: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock)

According to Google data, the in-store holiday rush starts on the Friday falling one full week before Christmas, and regardless of the day of the week it falls on, the busiest shopping day of the month is Dec. 23.

With the holiday so close at hand, consumers are looking for any bit of help they can get to ensure everything is perfect, so one way you can draw these shoppers into your store is by offering gift-wrapping services.

“Gift wrapping is a fantastic pull for small businesses,” said marketing expert Paula Mattisonsierra, founder of Power Marketing SF and a former retailer. “Definitely offer it for free on purchases from the store and possibly a paid service for products from elsewhere. It will have the two-fold benefit of helping you make a little more revenue and get people to come in and take a gander at what you have to offer.”

Stay open late

Another idea for capturing business from shoppers under the wire is to stay open longer these last few days leading up to Christmas.

As shoppers grab last-minute gifts and stocking stuffers, Google reports online searches for “store hours” and “open now” get a big boost, peaking on Christmas Day. This indicates many shoppers are still on the hunt for last-minute items and final dinner ingredients.

“Keeping your business open late means you will reap the customer sales when your competitors are closed,” said Laura Handrick, staff writer for Fit Small Business. “You’ll be seen as a reliable brand that is ‘there’ when the customer needs you.”

Related: To Close Or Not To Close? The Holiday Question for Small Business Owners

Target online ads for last-minute shopping searches

According to Google, online searches for “where to buy” increase over the week leading up to Christmas, peaking on Dec. 23. What’s more, Christmas Day sees 34 percent more shopping searches than Black Friday.

By taking advantage of this search trend, you can get more brand visibility for your small business by targeting your adwords to phrases local, last-minute shoppers would use, such as “near me.” Also consider adword phrases that are location-specific, such as “Manhattan toy stores” or “Atlanta restaurants open Christmas Day.”

Related: Small Business Owner’s Guide to Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Offer same-day delivery


Offer last-minute shoppers same-day delivery by leveraging crowdsourced courier apps like Deliv, UberRUSH or Postmates. (Photo: ESB Professional/Shutterstock)

Online shipping for pre-Christmas delivery cuts off around Dec. 21, but that doesn’t mean that customers wouldn’t love to get last-minute purchases brought to their door. In the past two years, mobile searches on Google related to “same-day shipping” has grown by 120 percent.

While your small business may not normally provide delivery services, it’s a great upsell opportunity at this time of year. Consider leveraging courier apps like Deliv, Roadie, Postmates or UberRUSH that use crowdsourcing to get consumers their purchases in record time.

“We are living in an increasingly on-demand world,” said Daphne Carmeli, founder and CEO of on-demand delivery startup Deliv. “With time as one of our most precious commodities, consumers have quickly begun to expect everything to be available when they want it.”

Simply take orders online or by phone, include a same-day delivery upcharge and let your excellent, timely service win over the hearts of last-minute shoppers.

Related: On-Demand Delivery Services Are Helping Small Businesses Compete

Don’t forget about the after-Christmas crowd

Finally, don’t forget about the sale-savvy shoppers looking to cash in on after-holiday deals.

Last year, 20 percent of all December store traffic happened in the six days following Christmas. Google searches for “clearance” spike on Dec. 26, when shoppers start looking to redeem gift cards, exchange or return unwanted gifts or buy for friends they haven’t seen yet.

For the last week of the year, create offers that would make sense for this crowd, such as bonus gift-card credit and BOGO deals to encourage shoppers to take home an additional gift or two for themselves.

Related: How to Make Holiday Returns as Painless as Possible

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