Christmas sales: Will your pockets jingle?

By Gabrielle Stannus

Christmas will soon be upon us. What is your retail nursery doing to provide your customers with new and innovative experiences at this time of year? How are you using your point of difference to increase your seasonal sales?

Ross Hooper from Zanthorrea Nursery knows native plants are his niche, and his unique plants feature strongly in his Christmas promotional campaign.

“The main Christmas tree alternative we sell is the Albany Woolly Bush ( Adenanthos sericeus), they have been a popular choice and last well inside for a month. In the past, we have sold the Norfolk Island Pines (Araucaria heterophylla) as well, but generally they get a little large when people plant them out after Christmas next to the house.”

“The West Australian Christmas Tree ( Nuytsia floribunda), looks stunning this time of year, and we can sell them in small pots for the patient customer. Wollemi Pines ( Wollemia nobilis) have also been very popular, mostly as gifts and occasionally as the family Christmas Tree.”

December sales account for 11% of Zanthorrea Nursery’s annual turnover. Gift shop sales can be as high as 40%, which excludes plants, pots, tools and other products that also get sold as gifts. “Greenlife and other product sales often takes a bit of a back seat at Christmas time, though we find customers still want to beautify the backyard for the festive season. This year we will have some decorated Christmas trees in an expanded selection of pots. Also, we will have a larger range of colourful hanging baskets. These are a quick easy impulse sale when a customer wants an instant effect on their backyard with minimal work. If you can have more products already potted up or finished, it will definitely increase sales in this busy period.”

To stay in touch with Christmas trends, Ross sends his Gift Buyer t o the Melbourne Gift Fair each April to look for seasonal ideas and to pre-order stock. This year Jackie also attended the International Garden Centre Congress in Prague and came back with some amazing Christmas ideas. But we may have to wait until next year to see those in action.

To attract customers to visit Zanthorrea Nursery during the lead up to Christmas, Ross rewards loyal customers with invite-only events. “In previous years, we have had a Christmas sundowner that invites our mailing list customers to come and enjoy an after hours shopping experience with nibbles and some sparkling. This has been well received and is a nice experience for customers, almost like a reward for being loyal customers. Though they still want to spend money at the after hours event, so keeping the tills open and manned is a must.”

Ross also provides ‘gifts’ to his customers at this time of year. These gifts double as marketing for his nursery the following year. “Every year we have a Zanthorrea Calendar that we give away to one thousand customers. This is advertised in the newsletter and we find it really does drag people in to get their free calendar. While they are in store, attracting Christmas displays will do the trick to get them shopping. This along with a sundowner shopping experience is enough to keep us busy!” says Ross.

Ross reminds other retailers that their promotional material may need a slightly different angle to cut through the saturated Christmas marketing. Until recently, some nurseries in the United Kingdom (UK) did this by promoting the appearance of live reindeer at their centres. However, a recent campaign by Animal Aid, has put a stop to this practice and some garden centres are putting on animatronic animal displays instead 1 . Elsewhere in the UK, Christmas loyalty evenings, Santa grottoes (with special gifts for children visiting), craft workshops and breakfast or tea with Santa are all increasing in popularity.

Production nurseries can even get into the game. You may like to produce new plant stock with a Christmas feel, or provide a seasonal reinterpretation of an existing favourite. As well as supplying poinsettias to its customers, Dan Schantz Farm & Greenhouses in the USA now produce Santa “character mums” in time for Christmas. These novelty crops would definitely attract attention on a retail shelf.

So what unique marketing angle have you decided to bring to your business this Christmas? What are you doing in your nursery, cafe, gift shop, online shopping or classes that will make you stand out from the crowd? Whatever it is, we hope it brings you excellent sales and a great start to the New Year.

Merry Christmas to you all!

1. Appleby, M 2018, ‘Garden centres to drop use of festive reindeer following campaign’, Horticulture Week, 12 November 2018, viewed 21 November 2018

Further reading
To get your website ready for the holiday sale season, read this WIXBlog: