For almost all retailers and shopping destinations, planning for Christmas starts early in the spring – whilst the learnings from the previous year are still in mind, key suppliers have time to visit with new ideas, and budgets are being set.
As the adage goes though, retail is detail, and there are some key things for shopping centres to address in the final weeks for those who want to ensure they max out over the winter season.
The lifeblood of a shopping centre is its visiting shoppers – it is important for marketing managers and their teams to employ all the methods at their disposal to entice people in and crucially then, to encourage them to spend. Social media is an excellent tool for highlighting centre events, in store promotions and those early sale launches for the last-minute bargain hunters! Edmonton Green Shopping Centre delivered an amazing social media reach of 65,000 in just 12 days for their campaign leading up to the Christmas light switch on event.
Let’s be honest – you can get Dad that blue jumper ANYWHERE. So why choose to go out in the cold, potentially struggle for a parking space, AND queue to pay for your shopping? Because, despite those things, we all love a great experience – these means that we all have a huge responsibility to deliver amazing service to everyone who visits our centres in the next few weeks. The key to this is obviously the individual interactions between our teams and members of the public – but things like the atmosphere in the centre, promotional activity, and the temperature(!) all make a huge difference too. At Weston Favell Shopping Centre in Northampton, Christmas really kicked off in style with a parade day to welcome Santa to the centre – an African drumming band led the way, along with on site Youth Theatre, Silhouette, local gymnastics group, on site church, local charity Thomas’s Fund and other fun acts joining the procession. Over 1,800 people were in the centre during the time of the parade.
Our job as centre management teams is all about curating an environment for our occupiers and visitors - taking care of the important operational things within our control to allow store teams to concentrate on giving their very best service to customers. Things like cleaning, security, lighting levels, opening times and speed of response to any incidents are all more important than ever at this time of year.
Seasonal decorations, Santa grottos, and festive events all help to create that vital point of difference. They also give customers a reason to tell their friends and family about our centres and to return more frequently. Who doesn’t want to give Santa their list in person? (yes, we know you aren’t just going for the kids). Our brilliant team at Birchwood Shopping Centre in Warrington delivered a 4% increase in weekly footfall with activity including a naughty elf character who was brought in to surprise and delight customers.
Whether it’s Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or Habari gani?... December contains important celebration dates for many people, so however you are celebrating - we wish you all the best!
John Magee, Associate Director and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Lead