The holiday season is a crucial time period for any retailer. However, traditional holiday shopping destinations are facing increasing competition from online retailers. As Black Friday turns into Cyber Monday, many consumers are choosing to make their holiday purchases online, rather than at bricks and mortar locations.
Shoppers turn to online retailers for the comfort and convenience of shopping from home or from the office. But shopping centers provide a physical, live shopping experience that online retailers cannot replicate and that consumers still crave. Shopping centers can capitalize on this advantage with creative holiday events, programming, and promotions. Here are some tips to create a festive and engaging environment to draw crowds to the center all month long.
One of the best ways to bring in customers during the holiday season is with special programming. Some great family-friendly events include musical or dance performances, food and craft fairs, and tree-lighting ceremonies or other holiday rituals. Partnering with a local school or community organization can be a great way to draw in diverse crowds.
Think Outside the Box
Unique events that appeal to niche markets can be great promotional opportunities. For example, at Monroe Crossing Mall in Monroe, N.C., Santa posed for pictures with children with special needs in a private session. Not only did this provide these children with a very special holiday memory, it was also a way to generate interest and raise the mall's profile within the surrounding community.
Social media platforms can be an extremely effective way to promote center events. Social media promotions can be a fun way for customers to engage with a center and direct traffic to different media channels. Themed promotions to accompany special events at the mall create interest and drive traffic. Some promotions feature a tie-in to mobile apps, allowing users to post and tag pictures at the mall for chances to win prizes. Others might draw customers to the mall website, or Twitter page. The most effective promotions combine social media interactions with incentives to visit the shopping center – for example, having a Facebook contest to win gift cards to mall retailers, or a contest based on photos tagged at the mall.
In today's increasingly technological world, where customers are subject to advertisements across every platform imaginable, integrating several different types of media into a promotional campaign will engage customers on multiple levels. For example, a recent promotion for the Independence Mall in Wilmington, N.C., combined a Facebook promotion with local radio advertisement. This not only keeps the promotion interesting and engaging, it also helps to reach an even broader range of potential customers.
This year, holiday shoppers have more choices than ever for where and how to make their purchases. Special events and creative social media promotions are great tools to provide shoppers with a special, unique shopping experience. Creating the festive holiday shopping environment that customers crave can help keep shopping centers competitive well into the New Year.
— Robyn Marano is the Vice President of Marketing for Madison Marquette Retail Services (MMRS) and can be reached at
. MMRS is a premier national real estate development, leasing and management firm specializing in infill, mixed-use, community and specialty retail properties.