Retailers, Take These 10 Actions In Summer For Successful Winter Holiday Sales

Christmas in July retail prep

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Updated June 17, 2024

Christmas in July. We’ve all heard the phrase as a marketing slogan, but Planning Ahead for Successful Holidays is a better concept.

By strategizing early, you can ensure your store is prepared to meet customer demands, optimize inventory, and create memorable shopping experiences that drive sales and foster customer loyalty.

Early planning allows you to analyze trends, train your staff, and implement marketing campaigns that resonate with your target audience, ultimately leading to a more profitable and smooth holiday season.

Now that summer is here, stores must start planning for the holiday season. Since we're still dealing with not having enough workers and problems getting products, just hoping for better holiday sales isn't enough...

Even though the National Retail Foundation predicted an increase, the media will still broadcast that retail sales expectations are soft this shopping season. They always do.

To get your piece of the retail renaissance, take these actions now.

Here are my top ten summer actions for a successful holiday season.

1. Clean out your stockroom.  A few years ago, the FDA admitted that they found smallpox vials from the fifties in a walk-in cooler no one had regularly looked at. Old merchandise in your back room is just as deadly. Take a helper and remove every box, open it, sort it, and throw out the junk. Put anything possibly salvageable on sale before Labor Day.

2. Clean out your store. I’m talking about down to the fixtures here. Remove every box, bag, or tag. Sweep or mop every floor surface. Get your carpets cleaned. The whole goal is to make your store look as new as possible.

3. Repair, repaint and relight. Once everything is clean, notice the chipped paint, the broken furniture, and the yellowed signage and fix them. Have someone take a razor blade to your glass surfaces and remove all those tape residues from health fliers. New customers notice your leftovers each time; now, so must you.

4. Open up your floor. Include more space for customers to move in and more space around items so they stand out. Use smaller round tables nested around each other to create dramatic display areas for high-profit items throughout your store.

5. Be merciless with markdowns. Consult your sales reports before you put your merchandise back on the shelf. Each product should have to justify its existence heading into the Fall season, and if it doesn’t make the grade, add it to your Labor Day sale pile.

6. Organize your products into lands.  If you can, move your store around completely so established customers will notice things they surely missed before. Consider new signage that makes those lands obvious. 

7. Review every one of your employees. Summer is a great time to catch up with every employee, from C-level executives to warehouse workers. Set expectations, tell them your plans to get their buy-in, and collaborate to make this holiday season your best.

8. Create a timetable for adding part-timers. Hiring around Halloween won’t cut it. Consider that this is your most crucial season, and allow sufficient time for training. Start hiring in mid-September.

9. Plan to get involved: Participate in local events or sponsor community activities to increase brand visibility and goodwill. Back-to-School season in August/September is the perfect time to start, then ramp up involvement as the holidays near.

10. Create a 12-week plan of emails through December 31. You won’t have time to come up with these during the holiday season rush, so they are often forgotten until it is too late. Don’t get overwhelmed - you know the main times already - after Thanksgiving, the week before Christmas, and the day after Christmas. If you want to be prepared, create those on Facebook and schedule them now for one less thing to consider. Here is my month-long schedule of email and social media messaging.

Wrap up  

Having a prosperous holiday season takes planning and time. Use it to implement your plan when you have abundant time, like during the hot summer months. 

Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor®, has helped hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses in every major category, including hospitality, manufacturing, service, and restaurant. He is a nationally recognized expert on business strategy, customer service, persuasion, and marketing. He has been a corporate officer, franchisor, and entrepreneur with over thirty years of experience, beginning in the trenches and extending to senior management positions.Contact Bob