The winter holidays are a time for giving, gratitude, and catching up with family and friends. For retailers, it’s also one of the most profitable seasons of the year. 

In fact, 30 percent of retailers’ annual sales occur during the winter holidays. Every year, holiday spending rises, and this years’ spending is forecasted to grow to upwards of $730 billion. For many brands, this uptick in spending during the winter holidays can make-or-break the year’s sales. That means that your holiday-themed retail displays have never been more important. 

The Holiday Season is An Opportunity for Retailers

Consumers shop in a variety of channels during the holiday season, and brick-and-mortar retailers almost always see an increase in foot traffic, including both new and old customers. This new traffic presents an opportunity for brands to create connections with first-time customers and to refresh the connections they have with existing customers as well. 

Even if consumers have already engaged with your brand digitally, this season might be the first chance you have to convert them in physical retail locations and leave a lasting impression with an immersive, “instagrammable” display. 

However, ideating, designing, prototyping, and executing a holiday-themed retail display can be a months-long endeavor. Smart brands will begin thinking about next year’s holiday campaigns during the current year’s holiday, because auditing the competitive landscape and consumer experience this year will give you the insight you need to increase your displays’ efficacy next season. 

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Here are four creative retail shelving ideas to keep in mind as you audit this years’ holiday-themed displays and plan for the next holiday season. 

4 Creative Retail Shelving Ideas for the Holiday Season

  1. Appeal to Consumers’ Emotions

Emotional appeal is one of the most powerful marketing tools available, and the winter holidays are a prime time to double-down on this tool. 

During the holiday season, consumers are more likely to be feeling excited, generous, and nostalgic. If you can underscore these emotions in your holiday-themed retail displays, you’ll have a greater chance of capturing consumers’ attention and converting the sale. 

That’s why brands often bring back similar campaign themes year after year. Starbucks, for example, continues to run its Red Cups campaign every holiday season, and it’s been so successful at appealing to consumer nostalgia and excitement that it’s become a holiday icon in and of itself. 

  1. Keep Costs Down, Ramp Creativity Up

Remember, for any temporary or seasonal campaign, your retail display will not be on the sales floor for very long. Typically, holiday-themed displays only run for about three to six months, and they wouldn’t be a fraction as effective during the offseason. Additionally, you don’t want to reuse the same display year after year—even if you do decide to harken back to previous campaign themes—so it wouldn’t make sense to keep them around indefinitely. 

Because of this time-based element, the materials you select for your holiday-themed displays will be quite different from your year-round displays. Holiday displays are more likely to be made of insubstantial materials like cardboard or acrylics, whereas permanent displays are often made of wood or steel. 

The good news is, these lighter materials mean that holiday-themed displays can be developed at relatively low costs. The bad news is, your competitors will also be launching holiday-themed displays at the same time, so you need to think out of the box in order to stand out. 

Balance the need for low-cost, efficient materials with the heightened creativity of your design team, and you’ll be able to create a holiday retail display that pops without breaking the bank. 

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Break Out of Your Brand

We’ve mentioned before that it’s incredibly important for your in-store retail displays to be consistent with your brand. We still stand by that advice, but we also believe that the holiday season is an opportunity to push the boundaries of your brand colors, logos, and imagery. 

Think about the typical winter holiday imagery that consumers have come to know and love—reds and greens, snowflakes, poinsettias, wreaths, snowmen, etc—and think about how you can marry those images with your brand. 

For example, one of our clients is a marijuana dispensary. For their holiday display, they created a moving LED graphic of marijuana leaves falling like snowflakes on a red background. This display worked particularly well, because their brand color was red, but you don’t necessarily have to stick to your brand colors, either. Brand standards are a little bit more lenient during the holiday season, so be creative and think about how you can highlight your brand story without being lost in the noise.

  1. Capitalize On Common Purchasing Behavior

Think through consumers’ common purchasing behavior to understand how best to display your products, where to display them, and what messages to send out to consumers. 

During the holiday season, gift sets are especially popular, so you might think about clumping together specific products in your holiday display to encourage more sales. Alternatively, you might cash out on more last-minute cash register purchases by developing small, holiday-themed countertop displays to live at and around the point of sale. 

By understanding the different levels of placement within the retail environment, you can adapt your holiday displays to effectively support and encourage more sales. 

Maximize Your Profit During This Holiday Season 

Creative, engaging, well-placed, and highly thought-out retail display designs can make this already-busy season ever more profitable for your brand. Remember to double-down on the emotional aspects of the holidays and incorporate familiar holiday imagery into your designs, and you’ll be able to capture the attention of shoppers new and old. 

InStore Design Display has been designing creative and effective retail displays for decades, and we’re intimately familiar with the retail environment. If you’re looking for a little inspiration for your next holiday-themed retail shelving design, please browse our past work or check out our free guide to the future of brick-and-mortar retail.

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