How to Prepare Your Retail Business for the Festive Season

Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.

Christmas is fast approaching once more after two of the most challenging years the retail sector has faced.

Despite having to tighten our belts a little this Christmas, there are still plenty of reasons to think positive in retail.

Here, we bring you the top seasonal trends to get your business ready for the festive season.

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The post-pandemic comeback

We might be enjoying our turkeys by candlelight this festive season, but if there’s one thing we Brits are good at, it’s spreading some festive cheer even when times are hard. Despite cost-of-living woes, Christmas is traditionally a time when people put their worries to one side and make the most of those precious moments, no matter what the future holds.

Though we didn’t have a lockdown last year, the rapid spread of Omicron meant thousands of family get-togethers were cancelled and people kept it low key. This year, the chances of some important catch-up celebrations are running high as people make up for missed time.

The World Cup effect

Another glimmer of hope on the retail horizon comes in the form of the football World Cup, held for the first time in November and December this year. Depending on how the national teams fare, there’s likely to be plenty of opportunity for celebratory get-togethers and exuberant post-win spending to capitalise on.

The rise of eCommerce

With millions of people stuck home and money to burn, eCommerce exploded during the pandemic. But while the risk of Covid-19 has faded from the public mind, eCommerce is here to stay, and anyone with an online store will see higher traffic.

There are around 60 million eCommerce users in the UK, leaving a minority who have yet to go digital, according to Statista. Total revenue stands at £110 billion and accounts for 38% of overall retail market share.

People are shopping on social media more than ever before

Social media became a vital tool for staying in touch during the pandemic but since then, it’s become a valuable selling channel for retailers. Platforms such as Instagram have grabbed the chance to capitalise, with shoppable posts making it simple for businesses to sell through the app.

There are almost 58 million social media users in the UK, approximately 84% of the population. According to Bazaarvoice’s Shopper Experience Index 2022, 69% have been inspired to make a purchase by something they saw on social media, and 54% said they’d be more likely to buy if they could click on a post and get the product info directly.

Ethical shopping

The Ethical Consumer Markets Report 2020 published at the start of 2021 found ethical spending in the UK had broken through the £100 billion barrier for the first time during 2020. Some of the biggest winners were retailers selling ethical or plant-based food who enjoyed a 12.3% increase, and the ethical personal products market, including clothing and cosmetics, which grew by 16.2%.

The trend towards ethical shows no signs of slowing. According to Deloitte, in the last 12 months 34% of shoppers had stopped using a brand because of ethical or sustainability concerns, up 6% from 2021, and 48% had bought locally sourced goods.

Analyse last year’s data

Last year’s Christmas data is a great starting point to remind yourself of what worked and what didn’t. Analyse data from your POS system to discover the top sellers and use this to create this year’s festive marketing plan.

Develop a promotional or marketing plan

Use the data you’ve gathered to test out what will work this year. Try them in-store and online depending on where and how you sell. If you employ an omnichannel strategy,test what works best for which channel.

Use Square Marketing to organise your promotional plans, create email marketing campaigns and analyse their performance too.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have been increasing every year since 2015, bar 2020, and last year Brits spent £9.42 billion, of which 61.49% was online. While the cost of living and the higher price of goods will impact, retailers who have an online store can expect steady revenue.

Black Friday falls on 25 November while Cyber Monday is on 28 November. Promotions across the weekend can help you fine-tune your Christmas plans.

Make friends and influence people

Influencer marketing has evolved from niche to mainstream – consumers are increasingly looking towards micro-influencers and celebrities to endorse products and make purchasing decisions. So, isn’t it about time you considered working with one?

According to Mintel, 19% of social media users who view influencer content have bought a product after seeing it promoted online.

How to prepare for retail challenges during the festive season

So, many shoppers are gearing up for what they hope is their biggest Christmas ever. But as we’ve seen, the cost of living crisis and post-Brexit shortages could lend a double blow to the best-laid plans of retailers. What can be done to prevent festivities being ruined?


Running out of stock in the middle of the festive season can leave retailers tearing their hair out. You could lose valuable sales and customers may go elsewhere for the product. In the Christmas rush, they might not have time to wait for stock to come in.

Square Online helps you keep track of your inventory so you have time to restock before running out. Look in advance at what’s selling well, and possibly reorder more than you normally would to keep stock at a healthy level.

Staffing shortages

This is always a potential pitfall in winter, but this year sees the double threat of Covid variants and flu looming. Consider hiring extra staff, offering bonuses and flexibility to entice them over Christmas. Offering these to existing staff will also make them more likely to stick around through the busiest time of the year. If you have a physical shop, pay attention to Covid precautionary measures to prevent staff getting ill.

Shipping constraints

Get contingency plans in place for potential delays and have meetings with your suppliers as early as possible to see which products could be affected. You may have to reduce product variety and concentrate on your bestsellers or explore alternative delivery options. When it comes to fulfilling deliveries to customers, you might want to relax same day/next day delivery requirements and manage customer expectations.

Despite these challenges, there are plenty of reasons to be positive about Christmas this year. Customers have saved and stayed indoors for so long, they’re ready to revel in the Christmas spirit and make this a festive season to remember.