This time of year, marketing seems to be focused on one thing: attracting shoppers and their eager wallets and purses filled with credit cards and cash. That said, there’s still plenty of consumer bandwidth left for non-retailers to get in on the holiday season action. However, to do so, they need to market too! Let’s revisit a blog I wrote on this topic from 2019. Enjoy!

Holiday Spending: It’s Not Just for Retailers

December is here, which means the holiday gift giving season is upon us. Retailers big and small have stocked their physical and virtual shelves with all sorts of goodies, gadgets, and other temptations for consumers.

  • Did you know that holiday sales (November and December) represent about 20 percent of annual retail sales each year, according to the National Retail Federation, with toy and game stores doing 30 percent of their annual business this time of year?
  • Experts expect 2019 to bring us the first trillion-dollar holiday season with consumers spending some $1.008 trillion in retail sales this year, with more than $135 billion coming from online shopping (a 13.2 percent increase from 2018).
  • Among bricks-and-mortar retailers, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy are expected to be the big winners this holiday season, while their online counterparts plus—with its fast and often free shipping—gain most traction with online shoppers.


In marketing, we call such a fixation on a certain time of year seasonality. If you’ve been in business for a handful of years or more, you more than likely have experienced variations in your sales around a particular time of year—so much so that you can now predict or anticipate what the spring, summer, fall, winter, or holiday season will bring.

That said, with all of this focus on retailers this time of year, those in the professional services, food, hospitality, health care, financial services, and other so-called “non-retail” industries surely must be feeling left out, or at least wondering, “How can I get involved in the blitz for holiday sales?”


While it’s true the attention of most consumers is targeted to scratching their retail itches, the need for various non-retail services remains.

If you’re a non-retail service provider, what you need for success during the holidays is a shift in marketing mindset. Instead of throwing your hands up and conceding defeat to the usual retail overlords, make a decision to join in by maintaining (or even increasing) your marketing presence. After all, just because you don’t have a physical “widget” or toy or the latest tech on your shelves doesn’t mean you don’t have something of value people will want to partake of around the holidays.


Here are some tried and true examples of non-retail marketing ideas and opportunities, straight from the Barrel O’Monkeyz brain trust:

  • People still need haircuts, and they still need to look good—perhaps more so than usual. November and December always involve people spending lots of time out and about, shopping and attending holiday gatherings. If you’re in the hairstyling, barbering, esthetics, spa, or beauty fields, consider putting together a special package or promotion either for individuals or families to get them looking good for the holidays. Better yet, offer a post-holiday self-care package for people who want to reboot their looks in the new year.
  • If you’re a restaurant, café, diner, or some other form of eatery, is there a way you can tailor your offerings to holiday shoppers? Can you expand hours to align with extended shopping times, or tweak your menu to offer more traditional holiday fare? If you already have a “Tuesday Taco” night or a “Thursday Half Price Appetizer” night, can you do something similar but holiday-themed for November and December? Again, the idea is to generate promotions around the holidays—and with increased foot traffic in and around malls, shopping centers, and downtown areas, there are bound to be more potential diners on the go.
  • If you’re a doctor, hospital, or other health care provider, consider promotions around health care issues that tend to pop up around the holidays. Dieting is always a popular topic, especially just before New Year’s. Perhaps you could put together a group class or workshop on how to pick the right diet and/or exercise regimen. Charity is also a favorite around the holidays, when people tend to be especially generous. Perhaps you can promote Toys for Tots, a canned food drive, or even donating to local shelters, food kitchens, and animal shelters.
  • Financial stress typically peaks in December each year, a combination of holiday shopping pressures, whether you achieved your desired year-end business results, and various tax implications. Financial services providers can help themselves and their clients by promoting workshops to help with budget planning and juggling the financial pressures of the season. You might even engage in a little proactive marketing by promoting better financial planning for the year ahead. This might come in the form of an email promotion recommending certain free or low-cost online planning and budgeting tools.
  • Hotels can easily piggyback on increased local shopping volume by offering 1- or 2-night weekend getaways or extended stays for consumers who might be travelling some distance in search of retail bargains. This is especially fitting for hotels near large malls or specialty retailers that draw shoppers regionally or from out-of-state.
  • Movie theaters and local stage companies are perfectly positioned to take advantage of holiday spending. Holiday-themed movies and productions are always huge draws. Couple that intrinsic appeal with a discount on tickets or concessions, and you’ll have a winning promotion.
  • No matter what industry you’re in, you can always extend a promotional discount as a “thank you” to clients and customers for their patronage. You might also extend that promotion to cover “new work” to help start 2020 off with a bang.
  • In addition, and if all else fails, you can always offer gift certificates that your clients and customers can buy for themselves or purchase for others to use. Gift certificates may not be the most personal gift, but they are lifesavers in a pinch.


Let Barrel O’Monkeyz serve as your seasoned, outsourced marketing team. Our barrel is full of talent and creative minds ready to prove we don’t just monkey around! Contact Barrel O’Monkeyz Today