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December 14, 2016

If tradition holds, consumers can be counted on for at least two things this holiday season: shopping and dining out. Yes, when those Christmas songs are playing and that mistletoe is swaying, Americans are shopping up a storm—and stopping off at restaurants while they're at it.
Last December, USA Today reported that restaurant spending was on the rise during the seasonal rush. The boost in shoppers eating out during the holidays accompanied an increase in retail spending, with the National Retail Federation (NRF) reporting a three percent increase in 2015. It's while this retail madness is at full speed that we can expect consumers to be chowing down at nearby restaurants. So, whether you're setting up campaigns for an eatery or another type of brick-and-mortar business, you'll want to get in on the action.

Keep an Eye on the Clock
New data from Waze has found that holiday shopping in November and December spikes at around 4 p.m., and Saturday is (perhaps unsurprisingly) the busiest day of the week for retail locations. As for restaurants, Waze found that the most popular occasion for eating out during the holidays is New Year's Eve, but there's also a surge in the number of diners eating out in the run up to Christmas. These hours and days are your opportunities to execute location-based campaigns that seize the moment in all its chaotic holiday glory.

Let 'Em Know What You've Got
If you're a restaurant, you have no excuse: the holiday season is the time to double down on your mobile marketing. It can be as simple as an SMS marketing campaign, like the one executed by the area director for Prairie Pizza, a Domino's franchise in Charlotte, North Carolina. Ez Texting created an ad to run on the University of North Carolina at Charlotte's college basketball arena displays. The ad offered a free pizza to anyone who texted "49ER" to 313131. About 10 percent of the 3,000 students attending the game texted in almost instantly, and another five percent did so later that evening. Altogether, the SMS campaign received nearly 600 opt-ins and 350 new Facebook group joins by the next morning.

Discuss It Over Dinner
Other types of retailers should also be taking advantage of the spike in shoppers eating out during the holidays. This doesn't necessarily mean gearing your campaigns toward meals out, which may not make sense for your brand. It means targeting people where they are, and if it's dinnertime, chances are they're in the proximity of nearby restaurants. Go ahead and shoot them a coupon through your app or on their browsers.

Think your customers won't be in the mood to buy sneakers when they're looking for a bite to eat? Think again. Consumers may be filling up their shopping carts (and their bellies), but they're doing everything they can to save. A new study by Deloitte predicts that about one-third of gift purchases this year will be tied to a sale or promotion, and 77 percent of respondents said that a sale would impact at least one of their buying choices. Meanwhile, a March report from McKinsey & Company found that 44 percent of shoppers are "increasingly looking for ways to save money."

If you market smartly and help consumers save money, you'll see some love this holiday season.

≥≥ Need a Shortcut?
1. With holiday spending on the rise, we can expect an increase in the number of shoppers dining out.
2. New Year's Eve, Saturdays, and 4 p.m. are peak times to target shoppers who are hungry and spending.
3. Blast consumers with SMS and other mobile deals, and discount heavily as people want to save money.
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