The last quarter of the year is make-it or break-it for many small and medium-sized businesses. This is why retailers have to start thinking about Christmas during the summer. Christmas in July is the truth for retailers! Not for holiday sales, though they are coming earlier and earlier, but for planning the retail stores strategic plan for the holidays.
The Need For Early Planning
There are many reasons for early planning, including,
- According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), small stores are the most dependent on the Christmas season with 20-40 percent of sales taking place in the last two months of the year.
“We do know that 40 percent of shoppers say they begin shopping before Halloween.”
- For the past several years, American Express has sponsored an event called Small Business Saturday. In 2012, this event, scheduled during the holiday shopping season brought in around $5.5 billion for local stores and restaurants.
- Other things contributing to the Christmas season buying rush coming earlier each year is that brands and stores recognize that holidays falling around Christmas include Chanukah and Kwanza. Two gift giving holidays for Jewish people and non-Christian African-Americans.
What Retailers Do During the Summer
Even if you are not thinking about Christmas during the summer, your competitors are. What are they thinking about?
- Their Christmas season stock which they have to order soon, for delivery in late fall.
- Offers to entice customers in the door such as promotions, door busters, and other promotions for their shoppers.
- How many seasonal employees they will need; October 2014 was a record-breaker for hiring seasonal employees, and for the last quarter 2014 there were 785,200 workers added to the employment rolls of the retail industry. But, that number is only for retail, yet retail dependent services such as FedEx and UPS, together added 150,000 workers.
- Holiday season advertising, including window dressing and storefront decorations
So, you need to get started now or face being left behind until next year. So, what needs doing in summer for Christmas? Each of the above items is the result of research, calculations, inventory management and budgeting. That means you need to find out what your industry’s newest, best items are, where to get them, and the lead time needed for selling them for the holiday season.
- You also have to decide whom to hire for the holiday season and when they start. Hiring yourself is less expensive than using a temporary agency… and you need to begin soon.
- Budgeting means understanding how much you can invest in inventory and how much you can comfortably spend on added retail sales people. Retail businesses often look at the last three years of the last quarters and yearly numbers too when making these decisions.
- Will you use loss leaders (door busters) as a means to get consumers in your front door? How will you price other levels of your retail products – high-end products with a bigger margin or across the board margins?
- Most retailers set appointments with window dressers to make their store fronts inviting to customers – but their schedules fill quickly, and they need to be contracted for now.
TideWater Landscape Management is bringing holiday decorating services to the Savannah area. Contracting with TideWater means that they will take care of designing, installing, maintaining, removing and storing your Christmas decor. Click here to set an appointment with an holiday decorating service expert or call 912-966-7391.