Preparing for the Holiday Season

By AmerisourceBergen |

Follow these unique tips to improve your community pharmacy’s business through the holiday season.
Community pharmacies, like all major retail stores, need to prepare for the influx of patients and customers who will walk through their front doors during the holiday season. As the shopping bug inevitably makes its rounds, combine that convivial contagion with the unpleasant bugs brought on by cold and flu season and it is no surprise that this is the busiest time of year for pharmacists, according to the Health Foundation.

With solid planning and execution, pharmacies can use the holiday rush as an opportunity to increase their bottom line while creating a festive experience and improving patient health. 

  1. Evaluate last year’s sales to prepare for this year’s holiday

    When it comes to considering a strategy for the holiday season, a good place to start is last year. A pharmacy should look at last year’s seasonal sales and determine which products moved and which didn’t. How well did patients respond to special offers via mail versus email or social media? A pharmacy can also review its point of sale system to gain insight on peak times and determine if extended holiday hours are worthwhile. Learning from last year’s trends can help direct a community pharmacy’s plan for this holiday season.

  2. Make sure shelves are properly stocked

    In preparation for an increase in traffic, take the time to make sure the front end’s shelves are properly stocked. A pharmacy wants to make certain it carries plenty of the items that typically sell well. It’s cold and flu season after all, so be sure to meet customer needs with OTC analgesics and cough and cold products.

    As for seasonal merchandise, it’s important for a pharmacy to carry useful holiday products but not overstock its shelves. Review last year’s sales to gain an understanding of what sold well, such as wrapping paper, ornament hooks, seasonal candies and stocking stuffers. A pharmacy will also want to place these items strategically (e.g., putting stocking stuffers near the check-out line) and use shelf talkers throughout the store to help patients easily locate them.

  3. Decorate the storefront

    According to studies,2 a decorated pharmacy storefront entices more people to walk through the front door. Adorning a community pharmacy with holiday lights immediately draws attention and can differentiate the business from surrounding retailers. Be creative and make the decorations stand out. Unique décor could also be shared on the pharmacy’s social media channels as a way to pique interest and draw patients into the store. In this way, if the right décor leads to increased traffic, it could be considered an investment rather than an expense.

  4. Send holiday cards

    Mailing personalized holiday-themed cards to patients is a wonderful way to build the type of personal connection that only an independent community pharmacy can. Make sure the cards are secular. Season’s greetings or winter-themed cards are always appropriate.

    Consider handwriting a straightforward note such as, “Thank you for entrusting us with your care. May the New Year bring you and your loved ones health and happiness.” This kind of special touch keeps customers coming back.

  5. Provide holiday health tips

    One of the best ways a pharmacy can give back during the holidays is to help patients stave off colds, the flu and other illnesses that are prevalent in winter months.  Advertise flu shots and encourage patients get them before Saint Nick comes to town.

    People tend to become less health-conscious during the holiday season — eating more and exercising less. Community pharmacies can help patients to get a jump-start on their New Year’s resolution by providing education or classes on nutrition. And, as insurance policies renew come January, it’s important for pharmacists to remind patients to get their annual physical.

    We usually think of the holidays as a time for having fun with friends and family but, for many, it’s also one of the most stressful times of the year. It can be filled with overwhelming anxiety associated with shopping, social engagements, and, often, loneliness. Community pharmacists can help patients allay these feelings by offering tips for coping with holiday-related tension and carrying stress-relief items like aromatherapy, candles, stress balls and more. 

The holidays are perfect for attracting new pharmacy patients and reinforcing relationships with existing ones. By embracing the holiday spirit in thoughtful ways, a community pharmacy can encourage more people to step through the front door during this exciting time of year and underscore its standing as a trusted neighbor all year long. 

1.Hewitson, M. (17 December 2015). We’re Busy in December but We’d Like to Be Busier. Accessed 3 November 2017. Available online at’re-busy-december-we’d-be-busier
2.Alaspa, B. (23 September 2015). The Benefits of Holiday Decorations for Your Business. Accessed 3 November 2017. Available online at