Advice Christmas

Getting ready for the big shopping days leading up to Christmas

What do you need to know about the big shopping days at the end of the year?

There are several major shopping events that occur from Labour Weekend each year. Find out when they take place, making your store and website look festive, and start planning for employee holidays.

The end of year includes some major shopping days. Customers are expected to be out and about, instore and online, looking for bargains and wanting to shop.

After Labour Weekend sales at the end of October, Singles Day occurs on 11 November. This is a Chinese shopping festival but offers huge opportunity for New Zealand e-tailers and omnichannel businesses to reach the vast market of Chinese consumers in China.

Black Friday is an American import that has become a fixture of the Kiwi shopping calendar in recent years. It is the day after Thanksgiving in the US, and this year will fall on 27 November. Black Friday is now bigger than Boxing Day for New Zealand retailers. Kiwis are increasingly using the Black Friday sales both to stock up and also to kickstart their Christmas shopping. In New Zealand, Cyber Monday (29 November 2021) has increasingly been merged with Black Friday to create one of the biggest shopping festivals of the year.

Ecommerce sites and bricks and mortar stores will get busier through December. Christmas Eve (24 December) is still the biggest shopping day of the year as Kiwis rush to get last minute Christmas gifts sorted and stock up on groceries ahead of Christmas Day, when most shops must be closed. Boxing Day sales start on 26 December and round out the busiest month of the year for retail businesses.

It is a good idea for retailers to be planning well ahead for these big shopping days. Stock needs to be ordered months in advance, and staff rostering needs to be organised well ahead of time to meet employee holiday needs and to make sure you can meet customer demands. If you need to employ fixed-term or casual employees at the end of the year, it is a good idea to get organised well in advance to allow time for advertising and interviews. Don’t forget that every employee must have a written contract, and that you need to meet minimum employment standards.

The holiday season is a popular time for staff to take holidays. If you haven’t already done so, we recommend you talk to your staff now regarding their plans for holidays during this time. This will give you advance warning of the need if any, to arrange for staff coverage during this busy retail period.

If you are likely to need casual employees over the summer, we recommend that you start recruiting now. You might want to think about using Student Job Search (which has no cost for employers) to help get the people you need for the busy period – but however you recruit it’s important to make sure that casual employees are truly casual and that you have the right contracts in place.

Check out our advice for finding and recruiting the right people this Christmas season. If you have any questions, please check in with our free member Advice Service on 0800 472 472 or email [email protected].

Public holidays fall on Friday 25 December and Monday 28 December 2020, as well as Friday 1 January and Monday 4 January 2021. You need to pay public holiday entitlements to employees to cover these days.

Many retailers will theme up their websites and stores to suit the festive season, and the specific shopping days that fall at the end of the year. There are several things to consider when planning this, such as if you’re going to stick with a summer theme, or follow the many other parts of the world and embrace a snowy winter theme. For bricks and mortar stores, it is also important to consider store layout, increasing volume on the shop floor, and displays. These merchandising standards will vary significantly by location, product lines, and branding. Merchandising for the holiday season is not a “done once” job, but must be continuously updated during the busiest shopping season of the year.

In New Zealand, a large number of retailers decorate for a festive winter holiday season in the midst of the local summer holidays. Other shops merchandise for beach weather, BBQs and outdoor activities. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong season to embrace for your store’s decor, but it is important that the rest of your merchandising and displays reflect the festive theme you pick. It is not essential to pick only a winter or summer holiday theme, however using festive images on your website and decorating your store front and windows will make it more attractive to customers in holiday shopping mode. We highly recommend taking the time to plan and merchandise for the occasion to best suit your business.

If you are a bricks and mortar retailer and have the flexibility to play around with the layout of your store, the holidays are a good time to try new things. You will likely have an increase in visitors and your loyal customers will be visiting even more frequently, not to mention the increase from tourism during this time of year. Think about changing your store layout in ways that are more interesting, allowing you to increase volume in top selling products in the most prominent locations. Using top selling products or high-volume items in your front windows and priority locations will attract more attention to them. Additionally, try creating easy gifting combinations for your customers, or cross merchandising. Keep in mind that as items sell through you will need to be proactive in remerchandising. Furthermore, be reactive quickly to sales. If products in the windows or in priority displays are not selling, replace them with something that is performing well.

When you make any merchandising alterations for the holiday season, ensure that you’re not making changes that would increase risk of retail crime. There tends to be an increase in retail crime during this time of year, so ensure your staff members are conscious of customers entering their store and serving them. No matter how you merchandise your store, never forget that customer service will be a huge factor in hitting sales targets during the busy holiday season!

The spring and summer season is also a popular time for councils to run events, including Christmas parades. It would pay to check out your council’s calender of events for any upcoming activities to ensure that you make the most of the retail opportunities that come with these.

By law, your shop must be closed on Christmas Day unless:

  1. your shop sells only food, drink, household items, personal items, automotive fuel, lubricants and accessories; and you have only enough items to meet the needs of people who live or are staying in the area; or
  2. our principal business is selling souvenirs and/ or duty free goods; or prepared or cooked food ready to be eaten immediately in the form in which it is sold; or
  3. your shop is located at a public passenger transport station or terminal and you sell any of the above and/ or books, magazines or newspapers; or
  4. your shop is a pharmacy; or
  5. your shop is located in a place where an exhibition or show primarily related to agriculture, art, industry, and science, or any of those matters, is being held; or
  6. your shop is in Nelson, you only sell crafts, and Founders Park is open;

If your shop is on the list of exemptions about you are not required to open – but you do have the choice to make your own decisions about opening hours.



Check out our Christmas Hub, for more helpful tips about consumer trends and staffing, preventing retail crime, and much more!


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