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Pros and Cons of Holiday Sales Strategies for Small Businesses

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November 20,2015

By Heather Wied, Pubsoft


The holidays are quickly upon us and for some it’s a time to unwind and recharge the batteries, but it can also be a hectic time at many businesses because you’re closing out a year, planning for the next one, trying to leverage the holiday promotional season to increase sales, and trying to get some quality time in with the family. Also depending on your industry, your business size, your customers, your options for holiday promotions can be diverse and different.


Do you have an online store, are you a small business, or do you want to capitalize on the throngs of people who will already be out and about on the streets? In order to help you determine a holiday sales strategy for your business, we’ve come up with some pros and cons of each of the following strategies: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.


Black Friday - The Friday after Thanksgiving, known for its mobs of eager shoppers and deep discounts has been a holiday shopping tradition since the 60’s. Black Friday has lost some of its appeal since the advent of Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday, but many large retail operations with large advertising budgets use Black Friday to run their in-store sales promotions.



  • People are already out on the streets taking advantage of sales promotions.
  • Shoppers are on a mission and looking to spend money, so if you can get them in the door, the odds are they are likely to make a purchase if the price is right.


  • There is a lot of noise on Black Friday. Shoppers generally have their own targeted shopping strategy to maximize savings, so it’s easy for small businesses to get lost in the shuffle.
  • Shoppers can be easily irritated because of the large crowds, unavailability of the items they were looking to purchase, and the risk of possible unpleasant interactions is high.


Small Business Saturday - Small Business Saturday, or the Saturday after Thanksgiving, was started by American Express in 2010 as a way to draw attention to mom and pop brick and mortar stores serving local communities; however, it was officially recognized as a “holiday” by Congress in 2015.



  • If you’re a small, local, brick and mortar store, it’s the perfect way to join in on the holiday promotional time without getting lost in all of the Black Friday commotion.
  • Local businesses usually have really loyal customers, so sending out your promotional materials should be a relatively straightforward endeavor.


  • You’re asking shoppers who may have gone out on Black Friday to go out again during holiday times for shopping.
  • When American Express started the holiday cardholders were incentivized with statement credits, but American Express has ceased this practice.

Cyber Monday - Cyber Monday has been around for quite some time now, and it is the online counterpart to Black Friday. It was started as a way for online business to have promotional draw around the holiday shopping time.



  • Cyber Monday is the most convenient for both shoppers and businesses as transactions are all automated.
  • It’s the perfect way to gain exposure and awareness if you’re an online-only operation.



  • As a business you may have to compete with brick and mortar businesses who can have combined Black Friday and Cyber Monday exposure.
  • There is a lot of competition for eyes on the Internet for Cyber Monday and the deepest discounts are probably the biggest winners, so if you’re a smaller operation, deep discounting may not be worth it.


In the end, stick with the strategy that suits your business and customers the best. Don’t be afraid of mixing promotions. Maybe you go for the holiday shopping trifecta, or maybe you do something completely against the grain. For example, this year REI refused to participate in the Black Friday hype by launching their #OptOutside campaign. The company is closing all of their brick and mortar locations on Black Friday to honor their brand promise and their employees holiday time by encourage employees and customers to spend their time outdoors this Black Friday. The campaign has been embraced by somewhere around 875,000 people on social media, so we’d say it’s successful, and additionally, they can also offer customers discounts through their online store for Cyber Monday.




Heather Wied is the Marketing Director for Pubsoft. Follow @Pubsoft on Twitter.





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