Looking to Boost Holiday Sales? It’s All About Scarcity and Urgency

by Gooten Editorial Team on Nov. 24, 2020

This year eCommerce is set to see a record percentage of holiday sales – eMarketer predicts eCommerce sales will jump 35.8% higher from 2019. But how will you ensure your brand gets a piece of the pie? It’s all about scarcity and urgency.

What are Scarcity and Urgency?

Scarcity is a psychological phenomenon in which limited quantities of a product become more desirable. It’s rooted in the economic principle of supply and demand; the more in demand a product and the lower the supply, the higher the price a customer is willing to pay. Urgency cultivates a need for customers to buy a product at very that moment – otherwise, they may miss out.

Here’s an example of urgency and scarcity working together. By adding a tag that says “Only 2 t-shirts left in a Small,” you are telling a customer there isn’t a lot of inventory left (scarcity) and implying that they should buy the small t-shirt now (urgency).

How to Use Scarcity and Urgency to Boost Holiday Sales

Scarcity and urgency are especially beneficial when it comes to boosting your holiday sales. Below, all the inspiration you need to incorporate scarcity and urgency into your offerings.

  • Build limited-time offers into your holiday planning: Offers with an expiration are one of the easiest ways to build a sense of urgency with your customers. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers are obvious examples of limited-time offers during the holiday season, why not also try a 24-hour flash sale or a temporary free gift with purchase free shipping offer? You can up the sense of urgency even more by adding a countdown timer to your ads and a website banner. Don’t forget to use ad copy with phrases like “limited time only” and “hurry!”
  • Artificially cap the number of products you want to sell – and specify when they’re running out: Like the example above, specifying when you’re running out of a product, especially by size, can create a sense of urgency and scarcity for your offerings. Note that you don’t actually need to have low inventory to use this tactic.
  • Premiere new products as a design drop: A new design or product deserves fanfare, and advertising an upcoming product as a design drop, selling for a limited time with limited inventory, will peak your customers’ interests even more.
  • Use your customers to demonstrate demand: Customers currently browsing and buying from your site can create a sense of urgency for other customers. Consider adding a real-time feed that shows every customer who makes a purchase, or adding a line about how many customers are looking at a product to each product page.
  • Add time constraints to shipping: If you can guarantee a delivery date, use it to your advantage. Add a reminder to customers that if they order by a certain time they can receive a product by a certain date. For example, if they order by 5 PM Monday, they will receive their acrylic print of the New York skyline by the upcoming Thursday.
  • Retire older products with a “last chance” section: A “last chance” section creates a sense of urgency and scarcity with customers, and can help you sell products you’re hoping to phase out. Just remember to actually phase out those products, as you want to maintain your customers’ trust.
  • Create a VIP program, complete with a sign-up discount: Allow customers to sign up for a VIP program, which can include early access to sales, or free shipping over a lower amount. You can even offer customers a discount once they’ve signed up for the program, which may increase sales. Allowing your customers to be VIPs will give them a sense of scarcity and urgency, all at little-to-no-cost to you.
  • Add an exit pop-up for customers leaving your site without purchasing: An exit pop-up is a perfect opportunity to incorporate scarcity and urgency messaging. Consider sharing a limited-time offer, a countdown if you’re holding a flash sale, or a reminder that you’re low on inventory.
  • Sell limited-edition or collector’s items versions of your products: A holiday version of your best-selling sweatshirt with a poodle on it? Yes please! Selling limited-editions and collector’s versions of your best-selling products keeps your offerings exciting and relevant – all while incorporating urgency and scarcity.


Scarcity and urgency are great ways to boost sales intermittently, and especially during the holiday season. Just remember to exercise scarcity when using these tactics during the rest of the year – the more you use scarcity and urgency, the less scarce and urgent your products may seem! How will you use scarcity and urgency this holiday season? Let us know at