Follow our expert guide to planning the perfect festive promotions and incentives

Launch a festive competition 

Finding ways to engage customers is important any time of the year. But with so many retailers and etailers vying for consumer spend at Christmas, it’s imperative that you find ways to stand out from the crowd. Hosting a competition offering product giveaways or free styling advice can be a great way to get everyone talking. Pippa Sandison, owner of Boudoir Femme in Cambridge, is already planning to use this tactic come December: “We’ll be launching one of our regular competitions in the lead up to Christmas where customers will be entered when they visit the store,” she says. “We will be promoting this through our regular mail outs and social media in the coming weeks to ensure maximum results.”


Organise personal shopping events

Every boutique’s secret weapon – personal shopping advice – is a great service to promote around Christmas. Not only can you help customers find their perfect party outfits and up-sell accessories to match, but it’s also the perfect excuse to promote any gift ideas you are offering to a captive audience. Jo Davis, owner of Black White Denim in Wilmslow, is going one step ahead this year by turning the concept into a unique and private event for the store’s best customers. “We’ll be running personal shopping events for small groups of customers and their friends,” she says. “We’ll also be asking suppliers to help us offer gifts with every purchase alongside increased loyalty points to really offer something enticing.”


Ask suppliers for help 

Asking key brands for help around the festive period can be invaluable for picking up merchandising ideas and sales tips. Moreover, many companies – particularly those selling accessories – offer indies free or reduced price POS materials to help drive extra interest to their brand. Melissa Wheeler of Ambiance of Colchester, says the store will be making the most of assistance from its top selling labels: “Some of our suppliers have been very supportive this year and have helped us with point of display, merchandising gifts and freebies to give to our customers,” she says. “I think anything that can help you offer added value is going to be good for business, particularly during the competitive Christmas period.”


Join forces with a local college

Making an impact with your window display is of course essential for pulling in extra footfall. But how about teaming up with a local college to raise even more interest among a wider market? “We are partnering with students from Cambridge School for Visual and Performing Arts where they will be designing eye-catching displays for the store windows in our area,” says Sandison. “ The exercise will gain PR for both the college and the stores