The countdown to Thanksgiving has begun, and while most of the country is daydreaming of decadent feasts, many local business owners are having similar fantasies about what will happen the day after the table’s been cleared and the leftovers have been stored. Post-turkey-day shopping has become an American ritual. We’ve all seen the news stories of holiday shoppers lining up at midnight in front of the big-box retail stores to take advantage the plethora of Black Friday deals.
This year, the National Retail Association predicts that 28% of consumers plan to spend more than 50% of their total holiday shopping budgets between November 28 and December 1—aka Black Friday weekend—which also marks the kick-off to this year’s estimated $616.9 billion holiday season. Not only are people prepared to spend, but they’re also actively seeking gift cards and gift certificates. For the eighth year in a row, gift certificates remain the most requested gift item from holiday gift buyers.
A Review of 2013 Gift Certificate Sales Trends
The adoption of online booking and point-of-sale solutions has enabled service businesses like spas and salons to really take advantage of those consumer holiday-spending dollars. In fact, last year, salon and spa owners using Booker sold approximately $2.8M within that four-day period compared to about $868k in 2012. More impressively, 66% of those gift certificate sales occurred on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
- In 2013, Black Friday revenue from total gift certificate sales more than tripled from 2012, jumping from $270K to more than $1 million.
- The average gift certificate revenue per location was more than $1000. That’s up more than $600 (251%) from the previous year.
- In 2013, Cyber Monday saw a 267% increase in the number of gift certificates sold over 2012.
- The average gift certificate revenue per location increased from $378.66 to $675.43.
- 53% of all gift certificates sold were sold online.
The Key to Holiday Gift Certificate Sales Success
The average shopper will do 44% of their holiday shopping online. Traditionally, many service businesses close for some or all of the holiday weekend and some salons and spas are also closed on Mondays. One thing’s certain: Spa and salon owners are getting savvier on giving the gift of beauty by accommodating online shoppers. By enabling online booking and eCommerce options, service businesses can still take advantage of those big holiday gift certificate dollars while their employees enjoy time with friends and family. It also provides a significant edge over their competition, especially if they aren’t using a spa or salon management system.
"During the holidays, Booker is especially useful because it enables us to still schedule services and receive revenue when the spa is closed through the convenience of online booking and online gift certificate sales,” says Caitlin Nietubicz, Spa Manager of Essential Therapy L & Y.
“We love that Booker provides us with a link to promote our specials to our clients through social media and email blasts,” Caitlin added. “Due to this, we have the ability to begin our Black Friday promotion on Thanksgiving evening so that our clients can take advantage of the offer early in the morning without leaving the comfort of their home. During Christmas, we've had clients purchase 30 gift certificates at one time because our offers are not only enticing, they’re also available while other businesses are closed."
6 Tips to Boost Your Gift Certificate Sales This Year
The holiday weekend may be less than 10 days away, but don’t fret! I’ve pinpointed a few best practices to help your gift card sales soar:
- Create gift card purchase incentives. For example, with gift card purchases of $100 or more, give the purchaser 20% off a service of a product of their choice. This way, buyers can treat themselves or add a bonus gift for the recipient.
- Make gift certificates available for sale on your website and Facebook Page, and make them easy to print out or email. Convenience is key during the holidays.
- Sell an experience not just a dollar amount (i.e. a Deluxe Day of Beauty). This gives the buyer an understanding of what will be received, makes the gift feel more personalized, and provides a quick gift-giving solution for the unfamiliar purchaser.
- Create packages a several different price points to accommodate budget-friendly buyers as well as those who would like to splurge this season.
- If you have an online store (eCommerce option), offer special deals for purchases just through your online store.
- Offer free shipping for online purchases.
The Bottom Line
Not only do holiday gift certificate sales provide an incredible opportunity for significant revenue for service businesses, but it also provides them with the opportunity to expand their customer base as people give gift certificates to friends and family who may not be customers of that business. With so many new customers coming through the doors in the coming months, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about how to keep them coming back. A retention marketing strategy is just what you’ll need. You can learn more about retention marketing best practices in our Customer Retention guide.
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