Holiday Merchandising: Promoting Impulse Sales

By: Danielle Leroux

The holiday season is fast approaching and holidays like Christmas are important for the cannabis industry in boosting retail sales. According to 2023 data from Cova, Christmas sales have beat out 4/20 sales in the past.

Retailers should have a strategy in place to maximize sales during this busy season. This includes promoting small products like stocking stuffers at point-of-sale to get that impulse buy and using digital assets to your advantage.

Start Planning Early

James Nichol is the Senior Director of Retail at Inspired Cannabis, a company with cannabis retail stores in British Columbia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.

“We’ve been working on what the holidays are going to look like for us since July,” Nichol says. “The regulatory framework makes it a little difficult and it is different for every province. For instance, in BC, everything has to be under lock and key. You can’t do quick grab stations and you can’t have lighters out, but in Ontario there is more flexibility and you can.”

“Check the rules and ensure you are compliant.”

Nichol reminds retailers to check the rules and ensure you are compliant before planning out the rest of your strategy.

Inspired Cannabis also began their planning early to account for vendor timelines. “We have to manage landing time and product availability and that can be difficult to plan,” Nichol explains.

He encourages retailers to look beyond cannabis to traditional retail and the approach they take to holiday merchandising. “Shoppers Drug Mart does an amazing job on their holiday merchandising and promotion. The products they bring in are on point and you know it is the place to go to get stocking stuffers.”

Leverage Digital

“One of the strategies we’re going with is leaning into our private label program,” Nichol says. “We’re making our own accessories, rolling papers, etc. We’re going to be promoting a lot of these digitally, using a gift guide and highlighting stocking stuffers and quick wrap items.”

“Given the regulations, most stores in BC will be leveraging digital assets.”

Given the regulations, most stores in BC will be leveraging digital assets to drive consumers to these impulse purchases at point-of-sale. This includes using in-store digital screens and pushing out digital promotions via a customer email list.

Within display cases at the cash, stores will highlight holiday stocking stuffers. They’ll also add holiday décor to the look and feel of the store.

Choosing Products

Be mindful of the holiday products you’re bringing and have an ‘exit plan’ if they don’t sell. “If you’re bringing in any holiday gear, you don’t want to be left with a ton of it,” Nichol says. “What are you doing for Boxing Week to blow inventory and get rid of it?”

If you have multiple stores, Nichol suggests having consistency among them. “Look at the product assortment you want to bring in for the holidays. Having consistent SKUs across multiple stores is going to help from a promotional perspective. Make sure that you have enough on hand when you’re promoting it. Then lean in and really promote them.”

This year, Inspired Cannabis leveraged existing vendors and decided against selling any ‘fringy holiday gear.’ “We tried that in the past and we still have cannabis advent calendars from two years ago,” Nichol notes.

“Consider looking beyond the traditional holiday products.”

He suggests that retailers focus on what works well and consider looking beyond the traditional holiday products. “We’re selling white label, Inspired-branded accessories. We can do promotional advertising and mark them down—it gives us a lot more flexibility. Anything with our name on it is good branding for us and effective. We’re putting less focus on the holidays and leaning into this strategy—the Santa Claus pipe is for a particular customer, and it’s not going to be a high turn item.”