The holidays are approaching quickly, and the fourth quarter can be an ideal time to capture additional sales.
“In reality, it might be one of the best years for us for holiday sales in a long time,” said Darren Schulte, vice president of membership for NATSO.
Schulte and I sat down to discuss truckstop and travel plaza sales this holiday season.
Schulte said he expects car traffic to be strong as people travel to visit with families. Plus, truck traffic is high as capacity surges. “There will be exceptions, but, in general, I think the diesel gallons will be relatively strong,” he said.
During the video we covered:
Offer Holiday Promotions
Retailers are already warning that shipping will be delayed, which could send more shoppers into stores for their holiday finds. That could create new opportunities for truckstops and travel plazas that offer fun gift items. “I think there is an opportunity to take advantage of travelers and professional truck drivers that are looking for products that may be unique or that they can’t get online immediately,” Schulte said. “It isn’t going to make or break your P&L, but it will give you an opportunity to capture sales if you have the right product at the right time.”
Schulte advises operators to be prepared and get things out ahead of time. “Those who have prepared are going to have strong holiday sales,” Schulte said. “If you haven’t prepared for your fourth quarter promotions and the holiday, you're behind the eightball. You’re not too late, but you won’t have the same success.”
Stock Seasonal Items
Temperatures are getting colder across the country. Even areas with warm climates during the day can see temperatures dip down at night. Stocking hoodies, pullovers and gloves can be good sellers. "If someone is leaving Phoenix and it is 90 degrees, they may not be thinking they need a hoodie and gloves by the time they get to Ohio,” Schulte said. “If you don’t have those types of products available for that customer, that is a lost sales opportunity.”
Windshield washer fluid and fuel additives are also in demand when the thermometer drops. Ordering early and keeping items in stock will ensure operators have what they need when harsh weather arrives.
Operators can also create adjacent or add-on purchases with season items. “I’ve seen times when they have deer feed outside but no hunting gear inside. That is a missed opportunity,” Schulte said.
In the video, we reference Plan Now for Your Winter Sales Drive from NATSO’s blog.
This has been a challenging year, and everyone is looking for a little more happiness. Schulte said NATSO members can be a part of that. "We're all looking for a ray of sunshine in this hot mess we’re in,” he said. “Why not have a really beautiful Christmas or holiday display?”
That can include putting holiday décor on the windows or focusing on holiday-themed endcaps.
Displays can center around food and beverage items popular during the holidays, such as 7-Up or ginger ale. “Normally, in our industry, beer doesn't sell well. We hear all of these reports that beer sales are way up. Make sure you're getting with your beer vendor and have a fun beer display,” he said.
Adding holiday cheer inside the store can also create a warm, inviting work environment for staff. “It is a great opportunity to allow them to be happy,” Schulte said.
To learn more, view the full conversation on NATSO’s facebook page.
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