The holiday season is a time of shopping and gift-buying, and it’s of paramount importance for the retail industries. The so-called ‘golden quarter’ – the three-month run from October to January including Christmas and the New Year – presents a huge opportunity for stores big and small. With customers seeking bargains from Black Friday through to Christmas and holiday shopping, followed by the bargain-packed post-festive sale season.
And there’s a lot of revenue at stake. Total retail sales for 2018 in the US are expected to hit $1.002trn during the Christmas holiday period. It is set to be the “strongest growth since 2011” according to one source*. In the UK, meanwhile, a GlobalData survey forecasts that UK retail sales in Q4 are set to rise to £98.8bn – 2.0% higher than the previous year. And contrary to some expectations, bricks and mortar sales still account for nearly 82% of sales.*
Making the most of the holiday retail window
While brick-and-mortar retail has been under threat from internet commerce, conducive retail experiences can actually entice shoppers into stores, inspire purchases, increase dwell time and build brand affiliation. The holiday season offers a huge opportunity for these factors by creating an experiential festive mix of music, décor and scents. Retailers can ramp up this experiential shopping factor to appeal to the spirit of the season.
Working on the ‘multiplier’ effect
The addition of the right scent to a retail environment can have a much stronger impact than simply changing the décor. Research has found that that shoppers’ particularly enjoy festive music when paired with festive scent, and when music and scent are congruent, they act in partnership to bring a real sense of the holiday season. It has also been found that consumers have higher evaluations of the retail environment if the mix of sensory inputs is right. As ever, the sum is greater than its parts.
How scent can be a part of the ‘experiential’ mix
These sensory functions should work simultaneously, engaging all of the human senses at once. Clearly, the Christmas and holiday season is a time when people expect a change in the store environment. And holiday scenting is a perfect opportunity to generate excitement.
Along with the particular scents associated with this part of the year – pine, cinnamon, mulled wine, oranges, cloves – there’s a real joy of finding emotional touchpoints in seasonal stores. These touchpoints bring on feelings of nostalgia, excitement, sensuality, homeliness and family, and in turn, bringing in customers. Christmas has deep family associations with emotions and memories attached to those early experiences, and generating multisensory experiences can be a powerful retail trigger.