For many small businesses, the busiest and most profitable time of the year is officially here!

In its annual holiday spending forecast, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that consumers say they will spend an average of $1,047 this holiday season, up 4 percentage points from last year. In addition, customers between the ages of 35 and 44 plan to spend the most at $1,158.

There are many ways that small businesses can maximize opportunities to increase profits during the holidays:

  • Social media and email are inexpensive ways to target the needs of your customers who want to buy gifts for family, friends and co-workers. According to the NRF, some of the most popular wish-list items include gift cards, clothing and accessories, books, movies, music, video games, electronics, home goods, jewelry, sporting goods and home improvement items.
  • Have a creative holiday-themed event to showcase your products or services and thank your customers at the same time — think live entertainment, food, prizes.
  • Offer a sale that your customers will not be able to pass up. Not surprisingly, the NRF cites sales and discounts as the largest factors in choosing a particular retailer during the holidays.
  • Offer perks to customers to entice them to visit your location or purchase your goods. You could offer free gift wrapping, free shipping or a small gift for coming in.
  • Make sure you’re open at your customers’ convenience during the holiday season.
  • The holidays are a great time to make a great impression on your customers by providing an excellent customer service experience. These days, it’s easy for customers to move to other shopping options if they do not have an exceptional experience — sometimes even paying more for a similar product or service simply because the service is better.

As consumers, what better way to support and grow our communities than to shop local during the holiday season? The advantages are numerous:

  • Local businesses buy from other local businesses, thus keeping dollars in the community.
  • Taxes stay local with the potential to support local schools, infrastructure improvements and maintenance, and public safety.
  • The negative impact on the environment is reduced, as products do not need to be transported as far.
  • When you buy food from a local farm or market, it tends to be organic or chemical-free and fresher.
  • You’ll likely find unique and interesting products and services that aren’t available anywhere else.
  • You’ll have a more personalized and memorable customer experience.

This holiday season, I encourage you to shop at the many terrific and unique small businesses throughout Denton. Not only will you likely find that special gift to give, you’ll be supporting your community as well.

Shannon Mantaro is the Director for Texas Woman’s University Center for Women Entrepreneurs and can be reached at smantaro@twu.edu. For more information regarding TWU’s Center for Women Entrepreneurs, visit twu.edu/cwe.

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