Profitable Times Newsletter

When to Merchandise Holiday Products

Let's start with the definitions of two words that will be used in this article. Merchandising is the placement of products in the store from which customers make their selections. The vast majority of store space and fixtures are dedicated to merchandising. Displays are vignettes that incorporate multiple products with a common theme that capture the visitor's attention, tell a story, visually suggest incremental add-on purchases and encourages the visitor to linger.

Perhaps the only major holiday products that can be displayed year-round are Christmas ornaments. If it's appropriate because you have created proprietary ornaments for years or part of the mission or exhibits in your museum focuses on ornaments, Christmas or other related topics, this can be a steady stream of revenue with a major spike in the fourth quarter.

The yearend holiday season (although some are based on the lunar calendar and move around a bit) typically includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ashura and New Years. Because it's effective, some customers are looking for it, and as a way to lessen the issue about being too soon, easing in the merchandising of holiday products and gradually moving from less prominent to highly prominent locations can be a good way to proceed. The sequencing may be:

By Mid-October. Merchandise limited products in a less prominent location. The products can include those that are a bit more standard and those, if initial sales are encouraging, that you may be able to reorder before the heart of the season

After Halloween. Whether you sell Halloween-related products or not, expand the breadth of yearend holiday products and improve the location. It is suggested you consider, however, keeping some of your product powder dry for just a bit longer so you can make a spectacular debut of products in conjunction with, perhaps, a member's open house and when the majority of consumers start to focus on the holidays.

Second Weekend of November (or so). Plan a member's open house and other activities with the marketing focus on both selling products and implanting the thought that your store is a place to buy holiday products when the real buying starts after Thanksgiving. For these events all products,including some you may have reserved for the member's event, should now be in a prominent location and the first wave of displays in place.

Just Before Thanksgiving. With the proper balance of products focused on the museum's mission and current exhibits always given serious consideration, it's time for the full-blown merchandising and display of holiday products.

Mid-December. As you move closer to Christmas change the focus of your merchandising and displays to products that may not have sold as well as you would have liked and less expensive and stocking stuffer products.


  • The ebb and flow of product displays should reflect the timing of those holidays that are based on the lunar calendar and typically are celebrated before Christmas.
  • To the extent you can with your product selection, keep an eye on national promotions and third-party media events like a Martha Stewart special on television and piggyback on these marketing expenditures by raising the visibility of related products.
  • If a popular exhibit is drawing crowds during the fourth quarter you should adjust your merchandising and display schedule to take advantage of the increased foot-traffic.

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