While people may debate the existence of elves, there’s no question that online sales growth is outpacing the activity at physical stores. In fact, CNBC reports that online sales will increase 11 percent this holiday season. As a result, many traditional retailers are getting creative with their Christmas celebrations in the hopes of attracting shoppers.
As shoppers may switch to digital sales and promotions as they grant holiday wish lists, many still report that a visit with Santa would draw them to traditional malls, big-box stores and outlets. The Internal Council of Shopping Centers revealed that half of all adults with children under the age of 13 plan to visit Santa at a shopping center this holiday season.
So, how can retailers create a Christmas experience that draws consumers away from the screens and into stores? Partnerships, keepsakes and digital elements are all becoming part of larger experiential campaigns popping up in retailers across the nation.
Walmart, for instance, is welcoming the jolly old elf himself in 3,200 more stores than it did last year. Not only will visitors receive a free 5×7 photo of their experience, they’ll enjoy Christmas carols, decorations and special holiday food tastings. It’s a conservative move compared to General Growth Properties, which is collaborating with DreamWorks on a 2,000 square foot shopper experience that culminates in a visit to Santa’s workshop.
Taubman Centers is also counting on a major partnership — theirs with the “Peanuts” gang — and opening ten interactive ice palaces at various properties across the country. Using everything from simulated snow to movie scenes and 3D sculptures, the retail giant hopes to create a must-see holiday attraction. What’s more, a visit to St. Nick can be scheduled in advance at several locations, so time can be spent shopping rather than waiting in line.
In all of this, brick-and-mortar stores are aiming to create personal connections with consumers — connections that will drive demand beyond the reaches of a digital retailer. And it’s a trend that will only get bigger as competition for Christmas shopping heats up.
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