As you know, retail is always thinking ahead when it comes to the holidays. With fall (and winter) right around the corner, holiday preparations are in full swing for retail’s biggest selling season. From inventory management, to marketing, to return policies – small business retailers are assessing last year’s outcome while quickly adjusting for this year’s expectations. (Hopefully!)

We understand this can be a stressful yet exciting time for our SMB friends and customers which is why we pulled together a Small Business Guide for Retail Holiday Prep. Our guide compiles ideas, insights, and advice from across the Rubicon network on what makes for a successful small business holiday selling season.

There’s a lot to digest, but what stands out to us are some of the facts and statistics we came across in our research. Here’s a quick rundown (set to some of our favorite holiday tunes), which might inspire some tweaks to the plans you’re teeing up for your shop.

Well, the ads out there are frightful

We all know the advertising competition is fierce, but this is downright frightful. According to an SJ Insights report, people are exposed to an average of 5,000 advertisements and brands per day. And out of those thousands of ads, just over 150 bubble up as noteworthy to a person’s consciousness. Can you guess how many ads people actually engage with?


That’s right – the odds of traditional advertising working in your favor are slim (and probably none) so prepare to think outside the box this holiday season.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer 

Some of the most notable ad campaigns around tend to focus on humor, providing some light-hearted version of funny. Businesses that have used this strategy do so with the goal of attracting customers to their product(s).

Fact is: Audiences like to be entertained, not pitched. Consumers have been shown to pay more attention to a humorous advertisement than a factual or serious one, opening themselves up to be influenced. Key word, influenced. (Site note: You’ll want to make sure the humor is appropriate to both your product and your customer.)

Key takeaway: Giving people something to laugh at makes people stop and think about your shop. Consider going against the traditional holiday cheer, and instead, go for a good chuckle in your social media posts and in-store signage.

Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel…I made you out of clay

More than ever before, people are freely sharing ideas and inspiration across the web. With this, comes the idea of what’s being dubbed the Maker Movement.

Essentially, makers (or DIYers) are forming communities of their own. Whether it’s through their own network or leveraging third-party sites (i.e. Etsy, Quirky, and Kickstarter), the people have spoken and this movement has taken off – as more and more people are transforming into “makers” themselves. Pinterest is a great example of what this movement looks like on a national, and even global scale.

It can even be seen on a local scale.

In fact, Washington’s largest craft show Pike Place Market recently expanded by nearly 50 additional booth slots as a result of the growing demand for the “makers” movement.

Key takeaway: Tap into the artistry and originality of your small business and the products you sell in your shop. Whether your inventory is made by you or other artisans, sharing the story of the “craft” at local farmers and craft markets could help build a loyal following for your shop this holiday season.


And a partridge in a pear tree

Did you know that retailers with a 90-day return window receive fewer returns than those with 30-day return windows?

Surprised by this? We were too.

But why is this?

University of Texas-Dallas doctoral candidate Ryan Freling attributes the phenomenon to the “endowment effect” — the longer consumers possess an object, the more attached to it they become and less likely they are to return it.

Key takeaway: Consider your holiday returns policy and if it might do more good than harm to be more lenient this holiday season.

Learn more facts, stats, and advice from the full Small Business Guide for Retail Holiday Prep, or check back on our blog each week for the latest tips and thought-starters for small business success.

Editor Note: References made to companies in this post are not meant to convey endorsement by Rubicon of those companies in any way.