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Holiday Retail Sales are Important: Nine Ideas for What Your Truckstop Could Stock for the Holidays

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

Christmas is coming!

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As I type this we have less than 50 days until Christmas. If you have not ordered your LED Christmas Lights for drivers to hang on their trucks you may already be out of luck. What about that bag with a handful of charcoal briquettes inside strategically placed on the counter and sold for a buck or so? Everyone loves to get a bag of coal for Christmas. If you do not have Christmas and other holiday gifts and products in the store already, get on the phone now and get them ordered. 

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Consumers are Slated to Spent 4.1 Percent More During Winter Holidays
Consumers say they will spend an average $1,007.24 during the holiday season this year, up 4.1 percent from the $967.13 last year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. They will spend in three main categories — gifts at $637.67, items such as food, decorations, flowers and greeting cards at $215.04, and non-gift purchases made because deals are good at $154.53.

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Truckstops and Travel Plazas Can Benefit from Holiday Sales
I know it may be hard to believe, but there are many well prepared travel centers that have or have had single holiday focused retail sales of over $40,000 in ONE DAY. But you do not get those types of heroic sales or even double digit holiday retails sales in a day without proper focus and planning. Just dropping in some Kinder Eggs, Reese’s, Hershey Kisses and all those Russell Stover marshmallow Santa Claus candies along with a case of two of 7-Up and Ginger Ale won’t add up to notable sales.

You are retailers regardless if you think so or not. And for our core customer—the professional truck driver—if you have the right products and the right price, you are the retailer of choice for them. That also applies to those locations that have a very strong and loyal local customer base. You can be and often are the retail operation that allows them to find the exciting and different item, such as moose crap and a bag of the aforementioned bag of coal.

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Now I would have to think that a pallet full of Krazy Lidz would have to sell would they not? But if we are not that adventurous, then let’s make sure we have some old favorites that usually are successful.

  1. Did I mention those bags of coal?
  2. Large stuffed animals and stuffed animals in general.
  3. Remote controlled trucks and cars. Large scale versions of these sell well.
  4. Die Cast Trucks and Cars in larger scales.
  5. Stocking stuffers, such as gift cards, Matchbox cars, Hot Wheels, anything Pokeman, coin purses and diaries
  6. Lindt, Ghirardelli, Cadbury, Milka, Godiva, Ferrero Rocher, boxes of Russell Stover and other fine chocolates
  7. Stockings-to-go already filled with goodies so drivers just grab-n-go.
  8. Interactive toys
  9. Toys of the past, such as Slinkey, Stretch Armstrong, Teddy Ruxpin and Radio Flyer

I am certain that each of you can think of so many more items that you could or have sold. What makes our locations special is that we have the ability to be different, to differentiate our retail offerings from the masses, and to specifically target our unique core customer as well as those traveling down the interstate. But with 56 days left before Santa tries to eat my cookies and drink my milk, you do not have a lot of time left to hit those magical $40,000 single retail days.

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About the Author

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators.

Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Learn about NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program here.

Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: 

  • Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores,
  • HESS Corporation, 
  • Petro Stopping Centers, and
  • TSC Global/Barjan LLC.