Holiday Sales Checklist: THE 4-Step Scientific Formula

4-StepsHere is THE 4-step scientific formula to ensure your Holiday Indie Retail Sales Skyrocket and Avoid the Pitfalls that Prevent Maximum Profits.

The holidays as a retailer are tough. I’m not going to lie – you know it and I know it. Long hours mean less time to spend with our families and friends. Add the pressure to meet your sales goals, and the holidays for retailers aren’t always the happy, joyous time that they are for most people.

How do I know? This is my 29th holiday season in independent retail. I spent too many of those early ones in a daze. You could call it a holidaze.

Here’s the good news. I learned much in those years, and you know that I will always give you the benefit of my experience from both my own stores and the countless stores I’ve worked with over the last three decades.

Most store owners work so hard through the holiday that they miss enjoying the holiday themselves. Even worse is that their plan is to do their best! They buy the best stuff, merchandise it as best they can and then do their best to sell it like crazy. The problem is that all that makes them a little crazy!


Stop doing the best you can. Sounds wrong, right? But what do you do when your best isn’t good enough? That is what happened to me in one of my stores. My best efforts weren’t getting the results I needed, and my store that was sinking fast. I learned that I had to get help and get a plan. I was taught the science of retail and that gave me a plan that saved my store. It is what I use in my work with indie retailers. I help them use the science of selling and consumer behavior to their advantage – increasing their cash flow and decreasing their stress.

So maybe you know that retail is a science. But did you know that there’s a specific science to the holiday season? Simply by using that scientific knowledge, I am going to share with you what 3 steps you need to take to ensure your holiday sales skyrocket and avoid the pitfalls that prevent maximum profits. Also, how to avoid spending the holidays IN A DAZE!!!

Let’s start with an exercise. Think about how you feel about your holiday shopping list right before Turkey day? How do you act when you go shopping? It’s early. The season is stretched out before you like a buffet table with four different types of pie. Gift giving days seem far away. You are calm and relaxed as you look for the perfect gift for those you love.

Now how do you feel about holiday shopping list the week before Christmas – how do you feel about shopping then? Is your heart beating a little faster? Are your hands starting to sweat? Thinking about wrapping up anything to get your list finished?! The closer it gets to Christmas the crankier and crazier people often become!

Finally think about how you feel the week after Christmas when you go into stores. What do you expect to see? What do you want? Are you looking for deals? Great deals? Do you love the thrill of the hunt? (I know you do, because I’ve seen you post pictures of price tags on Facebook…you know who you are!)

Your customers go through the same things. The customer in your store the week before Thanksgiving is different than the customer in your store just before Christmas – and they are both different from the shopper in your store the week after Christmas.

Customers’ needs and mindsets are different at different points in the season. You must pay attention to the science of the season, and when you use that time-specific knowledge, your customers will swear you’re reading their mind. And they will buy! Do your best, ignore the specific science of the holiday season, and you’ll snap back into a HOLIDAZE quicker than you can say Bah Humbug!

Let’s take the science of the season and apply it to the 3 critical components of retail – merchandising, marketing and motivating your team. These are impacted by the different times of season and the changing customer and demand different actions from you.


The many different areas of the store require different treatment as the season goes on. Your windows and area right inside the front store should reflect back to the customer what their mindset is about the season. Right now, let’s focus your front counter. This is the secret that I share with my clients. I have never heard it anywhere else. It will significantly increase your profit.

Extra profit is what happens at the front counter all day long, right? It is the “add-on” sale area. This is why you have to know what your customer wants each week. When you know what they want – even when they don’t – they pick it up. This gives you the opening to educate them about how fabulous that item is and what the item’s benefits are. It makes add on sales a no-brainer – your team will start to rack them up like second nature.

Let’s use the science of holiday to determine what should be on the front counter during the 3 key times. During the week of Thanksgiving, only put items there that are priced at least twice what the price point is of your average sale. Look at last year sales for November 15 through December 15. Take the dollar amount and divide it by the number of transactions for the same time period and that will give you your average sale. Take that number and multiply it by two. Then walk around the store and find items at that price point. Put them around your front counter and watch your sales increase. At this point in the season, your customer is more calm and open minded. They are looking for ideas and you MUST share your best ones with them. They often will spend more.

The week right before Christmas you have the opportunity to be the store that saves the world from bad last minute stocking stuffers. People always forget about stocking stuffers….and sometimes they buy junk just to make the stockings look full. In our family, my dad was chief stocking stuffer. He would always end up going to the drug store for them at the last minute. Ugh. What kid wants dental floss for a gift?! The same kid that didn’t want a toothbrush or toothpaste…but those were always in there, too! So fill your front counter with wonderful stocking stuffers. Put up a sign “Don’t Forget Those Stockings”. You will be reading their minds and they will pile it on.

After Christmas, the world goes on sale. You should too. Take the items that you want to markdown and put them on your front counter and make it ugly. I repeat make it ugly! The sale customer is not your typical customer. (Even your regulars come in with a different mindset during this time.) They want the deal and like to hunt. Make sure that price is clear and the savings are obvious.


Just as our merchandising has to change to target the changing customer so does our marketing. Your customers are drowning in emails during this time of year. Many retailers adopt the ‘Throw It All On The Wall” technique. This results in emails that are cluttered with many items. They are hoping that at least one of those items will stick in a customers mind and pique their interest. Unfortunately for them, the reverse is true – too many random items thrown at the wall means none of them stick. And off to Target your customer goes.

There is one essential element to add to your emails that will increase traffic and sales during the holidays. And this element always sticks.

Use the RETAILMavens Super Specific Subject Line Trick. It is so effective. It is really like a trick. This works like a charm because you ARE actually reading their minds. You are identifying people on your customers gift list. They will absolutely open it to see what you have to share with them and to solve their problems.

Use subject lines like:
Got a pretty pretty princess on your list?
Have a grumpy uncle to buy for?
Buying for your BFF?
Need a gift for a cranky aunt who never likes anything?

If you do have anyone like these on your list, you will look to see what the store is suggesting. In your email you get a chance to list the benefits of the gifts that you have that will solve their problem. You get to turn an impossible problem into a wonderful solution. The equation works like this:
ID a person + Provide a gift = CASH
Don’t worry that you are excluding people. Be sure to run 4 – 6 of these emails and run a couple of them in a week. You will absolutely hit someone on everyone’s list, and customers will mention the emails to you!


There is ONE question that makes it easy for your team to add on to sales. It has ten words in it. Ten words that will turn you into a retail rock star to your raving fans. Ten words that will have customers thanking you for enticing them to spend more money with you. Ten words that make it super easy to provide the best customer service ever.

I was teaching Sue, a Profit Club client, about the science of the season and the importance of making the most out of every single sale and every single customer contact. I trained them on this ten word question and we role played it. Then I said good bye and walked to the door.
Sue said, “Oh Cathy….”
“Who ELSE can I help you cross off your list?”

That is the question!
I started to laugh. Then stopped as I realized that I actually did have a gift that I meant to pick up while I was there. That question reminded me. Talk about really fabulous customer service! If I had gotten home without that gift I would have been so mad.

Customers get single minded and focused early in the season. Often they know what they want and go to the store to get that item. Then they cross that off their list and go on. But you and I both know that they are shopping for other people. You know your inventory better than anyone and that you can make some great suggestions for others on their list! Store owners go crazy about how powerful this is – especially earlier in the season. Try it – you will love it.

Did the 3 steps I gave you today help? There is much more for you. You can finally learn the science of the season and put it to use for yourself! It is all in the 6-Figure Holiday Blueprint. It is designed to teach you all the necessary strategies to have a massively profitable holiday season. You will be able to cash in on the holidays with easy to implement strategies and expert advice like I have shared today. Go to to get the science of the season done for you.

As first seen in RetailMinded Magazine.



Holiday Sales Checklist: THE 4-Step Scientific Formula