With so many people shopping online today, many brick and mortar retailers are wondering how to increase foot traffic to their places of business. As a bit of encouragement, even though many people do make purchases from online retailers, many shoppers still appreciate the experience of walking into a store, browsing, and making a special selection – especially around the holidays.

So, how can you drive more foot traffic to your location during the holidays?

Get the word out locally

Reach out to local newspapers, blogs, and even local television channels. These outlets are often looking for an interesting story, so offer them your expertise. For example, talk about some unique holiday shopping tips or how to choose the perfect gift for a loved one. This isn’t the space to do too much promotion. Focus on positioning yourself as a local expert who is in the know and nearby. When you establish contact with these outlets, make sure to pitch a winning idea, something that will grab them. Once they give you the spot, this is your time to shine.

Host some fun & free events

Create special events at your store. Let’s face it, people love free events. You have the space, so host a little party!

Depending on your products, brainstorm ways to have some fun at your place of business and invite local people. If you’re not sure what would draw a crowd ask the experts – your customers – about what they would like to see you host. Once you have an idea in place, you can utilize your email marketing lists and social media platforms to get the word out, as well as word of mouth and attractive flyers. Mail out some invites via snail mail to some of your regulars encouraging them to bring friends and family.

You should plan on having small events each week during the holiday season as well as one large shopping event to really drive foot traffic. In addition, don’t let the holidays stop your pursuit of fun! Host an event after the holidays are over to beat the winter blues.

Involve other local businesses

Other businesses just like yours are worrying about foot traffic during this time of year as well. Think about aligning your brand with like-minded local brands and businesses. For example, a women’s boutique clothing store could run some truly amazing cross promotions with an area salon, coffee shop, shoe store, or gift shop.

There is no reason to operate in a silo. Reach out to some peers and reap the benefits. You promote their services, they promote yours, and you can even pool together your contacts for a stellar joint event. If you aren’t already doing cross promotions with area businesses, the holidays are a great time to start. Many business pair up to offer clients joint coupons or offers.

Have some sales

You’ve probably already thought about the promotions you are going to offer your customers this holiday season. When you are coming up with your holiday offers, take a moment to think about what would really drive customers to your store. Many experienced retailers find that a dollar amount really makes a statement, rather than a percentage. For example, $5 off your purchase of $50 or more is a bit stronger of a statement than 10% off your total. Think about what would make you visit a new spot, and create your promotion from there. You can also offer an enticing discount on the day you are hosting a special event, to drive even more foot traffic to your party.

Look into adding some seasonal signage

As cheesy as seasonal signage and flags may feel to you, they do let customers know you may have some great holiday finds. They are inexpensive, easy to hang, and can be taken down and packed away for next year. First, take some time to contact your town and any possible building associations you are a part of to find out what you are allowed to display. No one wants to pay extra fines, especially this time of year.

Branch out of the mundane, and change up your displays and merchandising

Creative window displays and merchandising can signal to customers that you are a good spot to visit during the holiday season. Think about how you can incorporate the holidays into your brand image. Decorations and merchandising can be as subtle or as overt as you like. You can keep it neutral with brown paper packages strewn about, or make it vibrant with bright colors.

Make the outside of your place of business inviting

Foot traffic is just that, more feet making their way into your establishment. There are some simply things you can do outside to draw potential shoppers inside. Many retailers have found that a bright welcome mat (particularly red) draws people inside, as well as vibrant plants and shrubs just outside the door. If you are on a street where people walk by your store each day, consider putting out a water bowl for pets, or a cute chalkboard easel sign describing what’s inside.

Become a drop off location for a toy or food drive

This is clever. Without much space, you can be a host for a toy or food drive. Customers like to have opportunities to give back so give them the chance at your place of business. There are countless charities that would be happy to get you set up. Many times, this involves simply putting out a box and a sign. You can talk about your efforts on email marketing and social media as well.

Amp up your social media

While you already are likely on social media on the regular, the holidays are the time to take it even one step further. Increase the frequency of your posts, and talk about something relevant – like what to buy that special someone. Many people are looking for the perfect gift for someone special in there life, and could use some tips and tricks to make it happen. Even if they don’t walk in to your business that day, you’ve positioned yourself and your store as in the know.

Think about bolstering your hours

Consider venturing out of your normal hours, and offering a few later evenings to drive more foot traffic. Pay attention to local events. For example, maybe a theater is doing a few extra shows and you’ll want to be open to grab those shoppers. Don’t over extend, but think about ways to make holiday shopping even more convenient for potential customers.

What are some creative ways you have found to boost foot traffic during the holidays?