The hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season in department stores and electronics, apparel, and jewelry stores often get the lion’s share of attention from the media and analysts in Q4. But according to the National Retail Federation, grocery stores are a popular destination for 44 percent of holiday shoppers. 

With 2019 forecasts indicating that holiday retail sales will grow between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent over 2018, grocers may see their customers more often and spending more. 

Here are four tips to ensure your business gets its piece of the pie this holiday season: 

1. Stock the right foods and merchandise.

A Phononic survey last year revealed that consumers adopt different shopping behaviors during the holidays. They report shopping at different times and in different stores. They also purchase items they normally don’t buy at other times of the year, such as premade holiday meals and meal kits. 

Additionally, if nearly half of holiday shoppers are going to grocery stores, why not save them a trip and prominently offer some of the other things they need to make their holidays merry and bright, such as batteries, transparent tape, or even some popular gift items? 

Adding higher-priced and higher-margin items to displays near the front of the store and around the checkout can also attract more customers and help you increase revenues and profits. You may also want to consider offering a few items at a loss to draw more holiday shoppers into your stores so they can see the margin-generating items you have for sale. 

Data from your point of sale system (POS system) can provide you with valuable insights about what your customers will be shopping for during the holidays. Data from your suppliers or industry analysts are a good predict what’s hot — and what’s not — this year, but consumer preferences can be very different in different markets — or even in the city compared to the suburbs. Your POS system will provide you with data on the unique customers shopping at your locations. 

2. Make in-demand holiday items easy to find. 

Your customers feel a lot of pressure during pre-holiday shopping frenzies. They don’t want to spend extra time searching for cranberries, pumpkin, stuffing mix, baking supplies, and gift wrap. Your merchandising strategy should make holiday foods and products easy to find. Put them at the ends of high-traffic aisles, in special displays, or near the checkout. Making holiday shopping more convenient for your customers can not only help to boost sales, but it will also improve shopping experiences and maybe even lay the groundwork for long-term relationships with loyal customers. 

3. Protect your profits. 

Unfortunately, every holiday season brings a few encounters with the Grinch. Some holiday specialties have a big price tag, so take measures to protect them from shoplifting. Make sure that items that may tempt some people to land on the naughty list are in highly visible locations in your store and your staff is aware of how to spot and deter suspicious behavior. 

Loss from other sources can also eat into otherwise healthy holiday season profits. Many holiday foods have a limited shelf life, so it’s crucial to keep a close watch on inventory. You don’t want holiday packaged foods and goods left over in January, creating waste.

4. Prepare your team.

High-traffic times require efficiency and competence. Your operation needs to run as smoothly as the one at the North Pole — and your employees need to be trained and dedicated. Services you provide, such as prepared meals, dining at a café, or curbside pickup, need to work like clockwork. Spend extra time reviewing processes and training your staff to deliver the best customer service

The holiday shopping season can also be demanding on your team and lead to burn-out. Be mindful that employees need some downtime to recharge and maintain an attitude that will reflect the holiday spirit. 

To discuss ways to overcome holiday challenges and achieve everything on your business’ wish list this year, contact PlazSales