Keep your store bustling during the holidays with these last-minute sales tips.

At this time of year, we see Christmas cheer in every window. Well, we will be seeing it once Halloween is over. Hardware and retail stores are under a lot of pressure to keep a hold on customer interest.

Imagine this: The holidays have arrived, and you’ve been taking every available step to keep your customers interested in your store. You put up snowflake decorations and colored lights in mid-November. You had a snowmen family painted on your front window. You even promoted the heck out of your Black Friday Sale.

How do you regain the momentum and excitement of early holiday shopping and keep it going all the way up through Christmas Eve? And more importantly, how do you get rid of all those icicle lights and inflatable reindeer?

Here are 10 ideas that will make your customers think you’re the next best thing this holiday season.

1. Stocking Stuffers

For starters, what is the last thing customers shop for during Christmastime? Stocking stuffers. Put all your handy little gadgets (flashlights, key chains, travel mugs, gloves, earmuffs, etc.) by the check stands or set up a table nearby. Winter and weather-related are very hard to pass up because shoppers want their loved ones to be warm and safe.

2. Inexpensive Gifts

Following the stocking stuffer line of thinking, organize displays of gifts that are under $20 or $30. Throw in a few unusual gifts as well, such as a bag of snowman poo, or a reindeer that spits out jelly beans. Humor will catch people’s eye!

Make it easy for shoppers to find useful things that are relatively inexpensive. Emergency road kits, cold weather car care kits, and first-aid kits are thoughtful and handy gifts, especially since there’s no assembly required.

3. Free Gift Wrapping

Speaking of making it easy, your customers will love you for offering free gift wrapping or having some gifts pre-wrapped. Put your employees (and family!) to work for a few hours a day and get them into the spirit of the season.

4. Provide Wish Lists

Offer shoppers a free notepad and pen so they can jot down items they want for the holidays. Offer to make a copy of the list for them, or to email it to a loved one. Providing this personal touch is a great way to make wish lists effortless for your customers, and reminds them that you care.

5. Last Minute Gift Reminders

Offer last-minute gift solutions that your customers can use for the important people in their lives. Provide them with some ice-melting spray for windshields that they can give their daughters. Maybe they’ll choose a selection of gifts for their wives, husbands, and family members. The neighbor who’s always borrowing cordless drills and C-clamps and never returning them? Let your customers gift the people in their lives!

Provide reminders by placing low-cost items near the register, and possibly writing up a hand-made sign that suggests as much.

6. Step Up the Winter Fun

Now’s the time to show off your fun side by breaking out the sleds, saucers, snowman kits and other winter play things. Chances are the ones they bought last year are broken or buried in the storage shed (I know mine are!). These will be quite popular for locals as well as families visiting town for the holidays. Fun items are always a nice touch for when customers come in for ice scrapers and tire chains.

7. Bring Out the Calendars

When we get down to the final days of December, everyone needs a calendar for the new year. A display with a variety of calendars will appeal to your customers.

Better yet, making your own calendar and giving it away as a gift to customers has always been a great way to put your name, logo, phone number in front of customers every day of the year. It’s easier than ever to customize the photos and create a calendar yourself. This is your chance to be fun and creative. Don’t forget to mention your website and put a personal note of thanks in there! This is an excellent opportunity to provide a useful product for free, and give something of value to your customers.

Added tip: Add Christmas and holiday greeting cards to your stand! Some people would love to skip the extra trip to Hallmark and just pick one up immediately. Don’t forget the power of humor and sentimentality! Sweet and sassy are two of the most popular kinds of cards out there.

8. Appeal to Their Taste Buds

An inexpensive way to show last-minute shoppers your appreciation is to put out a plate of cookies and some hot apple cider. If they’ve been busy working and racing around to get their shopping done, your customers are undoubtedly hungry and a bit cold. A snack and a hot drink will prompt them to spend time in your store. Even the smell will put them in a more festive mood.

Added Tip: Put out samples of any food, candy, or holiday snacks to promote them. Serve them on a nice holiday tray. You might sell a few of those, too. Who knows!

9. Draw in Online Shoppers

Is your store visited by people cruising around comparing prices on their mobile phones to see if they can find better deals elsewhere? Instead of letting them find other solutions, why not approach them to see if you can convert them into customers? If you’re up to it, tell them you’ll match whatever price they find. Mention free gift-wrapping or your easy-return policy. If that doesn’t sway them, remind them how much time they’ll save by buying now.

Often, time is more important than saving a buck or two. Take advantage of having this deal-shopper in your store, and just spend a few moments finding out what they’re searching for. You might convince them that you have exactly what they’re looking for.

10. Gift Cards and Batteries

Last but not least, gift cards and batteries are your best friends. Make sure you’ve got plenty of them up by your cash register. Family members will appreciate the reminder to pick up AA and AAAs for the shiny new electronics under the tree, and the extra benefit of throwing a gift card in to the stockings.

Have your sales associates make it a point to ask if each customer would like to purchase a pack of batteries or even a $10 gift card to go with their purchase. The more people you ask, the more will say yes! This is an excellent opportunity to bring in some extra profit.

11. (Extra Tip) Pre-Christmas Discounts

If you’ve got a sleigh full of holiday decorations that haven’t sold, don’t make your customers come back for an after-the-holidays sale (even if you’re planning to have one anyway). Mark those twinkly Christmas lights, artificial wreaths, and inflatable lawn creatures down to clearance prices a few days early and watch them filter out of your store all the sooner. You don’t want them taking up space in your warehouse until next year!

Survive the Holiday Rush

The holiday season can be a make-or-break time for many retail businesses. Every day on the calendar counts toward running a successful business. Don’t let the last few days before the holidays end in silent nights – keep the momentum going and you’ll be looking at a much happier New Year.

These 11 last-minute holiday tips are just a few ideas we’ve discovered over years. Do you have any suggestions for holiday marketing, or how to sell your holiday stock? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to discuss which tips work best for your store.