8 Retail Events that Drive Traffic

September 24, 2019

Posted at 3:35PM • 9/24/19 • Liz Sagaser

Shoppers buy from brick-and-mortar retail stores not just for convenience, but as a source of entertainment and a memorable experience. Sure they can buy a sweater or teapot or stationery set online — but they’ll miss out on the personalized service offered in-store.

In addition to the lack of attention, they won’t experience hands-on product demonstrations, themed sales events, or product launch celebrations in the same way, either. Retail events like this are fun & engaging, and as it turns out, people like to have fun! #WhoKnew

According to a survey by the  National Retail Federation, nearly six in 10 consumer respondents said they were interested in special events and experiences hosted by retailers. The most popular events offered the ability to try out products, exclusive access to sales, demonstrations and product tutorials.

—National Retail Federation—Winter 2017/2018 Consumer View Survey

The last quarter of the year is a vital time to engage shoppers with the kind of in-store events they miss out on when shopping online. Read on for 8 ideas to inspire your Fourth Quarter events calendar and drive traffic to your store.


(1) Celebrate National Literacy Month in October

  • Draw for a free book each week of the month.
  • Invite local authors to read from their books, or schedule staff to conduct book readings at a scheduled time each weekend.
  • Host a Reader's Tea. Serve a variety of teas and nonmessy snacks.
  • Promote a themed sale each week of the month. Bibles one week, devotions another week, children’s books another week.
  • Host a charitable event, with proceeds benefiting the local library, or a local school.
  • Host a Bookmark Crafting event. Use Pinterest to find simple inexpensive ideas, purchase supplies, and invite customers to stop in to make their own bookmark.
  • Host a Bible Art Journaling


(2) Offer a Family Photo Opportunity

Hire a local photographer — or even an amateur high school or college photographer with a great eye — to take family portraits in October or early November. Sessions can last 5-10 minutes, and you can email the digital image to participating families along with a coupon for a future visit. All you need is an attractive backdrop, a photographer with a decent digital camera, and a staffer to help manage the project. Shoppers sign up in advance for their time slot the day of the event, and while they wait for their turn, or after their photo is taken, they can browse away. This is a high value offer for your customers, with a fairly minimal investment on your part to make it happen — and perfect for their Christmas letter or to tuck into gifts or cards for family and friends.


Use this event as an excuse to reach out to your email list with an invitation, for social media promotion, or even a local press release. Be sure to include specific details like “first come first served,” and “space is limited,” so shoppers know what to expect and how to save their spot.


(3) Promote Small Business Saturday (11.30) Your Way

Maybe for your shop, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is perfect for a big sales push. Or...maybe you’d like to hold an event every Saturday in November featuring product demonstrations, sales on specific categories, complimentary hot beverages or snacks, or entertainment. It’s your store, and you can promote the #ShopSmall movement however you want.

Make sure you are prepared to quickly gather customer data (first name and email address is sufficient — maybe birth date for bonus points and future customer care.)

Consider handing out coupons good only in December, or only in January, to boost future sales.


(4) Host a Hot Cocoa Bar

Something as simple as a sampling of hot beverages and basic cookies is enough to promote an in-store event. Make sure you have adequate staff on hand to serve customers, and if your event budget is minimal, promote a limited window, such as “Hot Cocoa Bar from 2-5 p.m. — enjoy a cozy cup of cocoa and a sugar cookie while you shop.”

Share unique cocoa recipes in store or on social media leading up to the event, and consider drawing for a fun mugs-and-cocoa kit the day of your event.

An event like this is a fun way to promote Fall/Winter apparel, accessories, and gifts.


(5) Host a Tacky Sweater Party

Pick a Saturday several weeks before Christmas Day for this fun event. Promote on social media, in store, and in email, offer refreshments, and offer 5-10 percent off (or whatever deal you want) to every customer who shows up in their geekiest sweater. Make sure the staff is outfitted in their tacky finery, and have fun! Draw for small prizes, play music, and take lots of pictures to share on social media.


(6) Plan a Gift Wrapping Event

This one’s a natural for the weeks leading up to Christmas. Invite your youth group to hold a fundraiser at your store — donations accepted in exchange for wrapping gifts, or you can offer complimentary gift wrapping for items purchased in your store on certain days/times, or set up a simple gift wrapping station with the supplies needed for customers to wrap gifts they purchase from you. Services like these — however they are offered — make gift-giving easy and help solve a genuine need your customers have this time of year.


(7) Read the Christmas Story Aloud

Not every family takes the time to read the story of Jesus' miraculous birth, and the true reason for Christmas, this time of year. Bless your customers and members of your community by inviting them to hear the Christmas from the Bible in your store on scheduled dates/times. You can offer light refreshments, and hand out fliers with Christmas service schedules for your church, or churches in your area. This is a wonderful way to share Jesus, while giving shoppers a reason to come in on a certain day or time.


(8) Parent's Night Out

Busy moms and dads need all the help they can get! Cordon off an area of the store with a classic kids Christmas movie or two on repeat, set up coloring sheets supplies and nonmessy snacks, and offer to entertain kids while parent's shop. It’s good to have a Check In/Check Out sheet, and you’ll need a couple of staffers on hand to keep kids safe and entertained while parent's shop. If you plan to promote this opportunity in advance, make sure you have clear rules and boundaries, including an age range, time limit, and considerations like ‘parents must remain in the store.’ If you have kids or grand-kids willing to volunteer, an extra pair or two of hands is useful for an event like this.

Other Days with Event Planning Potential:

Date - Event
Tuesday 10.8 - Canadian Thanksgiving
Thursday 10.17 - Boss’ Day
Sunday 11.3 - National Sandwich Day
Monday, 11.11 - Veteran’s Day
Wednesday, 11.13 - World Kindness Day
Wednesday 12.4 - Cookie Day
Friday 12.20 - Last Day of Fall
Saturday 12.21 - First Day of Winter
Saturday 12.21 - First Day of Winter


Team Kerusso is here to help you wrap up your 2019 sales year with a bang! Reach out to your Rep to find out which styles in apparel, accessories, and gifts are moving the needle in your region.


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