Christmas Discounts? Target Says “Bah Humbug” and So Can You!

christmas discounts

Despite a 10-day price-cutting blitz around Black Friday and Christmas, Target saw its holiday sales decrease 1.3% year over year in 2016.

When you do $70 billion in revenue a year, a 1.3% dip in a critical quarter is a LOT of dough.

Target’s leadership blamed inconsistent up-and-down pricing and an unpredictable promotions schedule for the dip.

Retail industry analysts said Target didn’t do enough to counter the increasing strength of Amazon.

(Unlike Target, Walmart enjoyed a holiday sales increase.)

No matter the reason, Target is taking an unprecedented stand against Christmas discounts this year… and so can you. Here’s how.

1. Pad Customers’ Carts With Low-Cost Impulse Buys

Even if a customer is shopping for someone specific, their eyes are probably open for good deals on smaller gifts for distant relatives or their kids’ teachers.

This Christmas, every Target store will add 10 standalone kiosks packed with smaller gifts priced under $15. Think fun holiday-themed socks, packages of beauty supplies, and even smartphone accessories and other tech gadgets.

Our lesson: You can pad your customers’ shopping carts by positioning lower-cost items on prominent in-store displays or by introducing those items in your online store’s checkout process or automated email followup.

2. Differentiate With Exclusive Products

Sure, Target sells the everyday products from everyday brands like Hasbro toys and Levi’s jeans. Ya know… the stuff you can buy pretty much everywhere.

This holiday season, Target is planning to really push eight new brands that are only available from their company.

These include JoyLab (young women’s active wear), Goodfellow & Co. (men’s apparel), and Project 62 (home goods).

If you want these brands, you have to go to Target or

Our lesson: This is an area where our small shops can really stand out. It’s unlikely your products are available in the big-box store down the street. Remind your loyal customers about the novelty and quality of items available only through your business.

3. Defend Your Digital Turf

Target’s leadership assigned the blame for slow holiday sales to its own internal decisions. Analysts were like, ummm, what about Amazon?

To counter the Amazon juggernaut, Target will once again offer free shipping on all sales (no matter how small) from November 1 to December 23.

But that’s not all. Target has equipped 1,400 of its 1,800 stores to act as distribution centers for online orders. That’ll get half of all products delivered within 48 hours of the order.

Our lesson: Free shipping is good. In the era of Amazon Prime, fast shipping is better. How can you speed up the shipping process… especially for last-minute shoppers?

4. OK, Offer Some Christmas Discounts Too

We’re not here to tell you not to offer any Christmas discounts. Sales and promotions are a great way to drive folks from the sidewalk through your door or from social media to your online store.

Target’s not ditching the Christmas discounts entirely either.

Last year, Target blitzed consumers for 10 days around Black Friday and then sprayed specials throughout the season.

This year, Target will focus on everyday low prices during the week and offer promotions on the weekends when folks are most likely to be window-shopping both online and IRL.

Our lesson: There’s really no getting around it. Promotions are a big part of the holiday season. However, if we do good marketing work, we can lighten up on the Christmas discounts and fatten up our margins and bottom line.

Will you offer Christmas discounts this year?

About the Author

Matt Simpson

Matt is a freelance writer for The DRIVE blog with expertise in digital marketing, social media, and copywriting. He's active in the #yesphx startup movement and has been recognized by AdWeek, Mashable, and more for digital innovation. Visit Matt's website or follow Matt on Twitter.

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