Christmas in July. We’ve all heard the phrase, but planning ahead for successful holidays is a more accurate concept.
Summer is here and many retailers need to think about what they will do differently for the upcoming holidays. With labor shortages and supply chain issues still impacting us for the foreseeable future, you can't just hope you'll have a better holiday season.
Even though the NRF predicted a jump in sales, the media will still be broadcasting how expectations are soft for retail sales this shopping season.
To get your piece of the retail renaissance, take action now.
Here are my top nine actions you need to take to have 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 prior to 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 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. Before you put your merchandise back on the shelf, consult your sales reports. Each product should have to justify its existence heading into the fall 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. From C-Level executives to warehouse workers, summer is a great time to catch up with each and every employee. 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 important season, and allow sufficient time for training. Start hiring in mid-September.
9. 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 prior to Christmas, and the day after Christmas. If you want to really be prepared, create those on Facebook and schedule them now so you have one less thing to think about. Here is my month-long schedule of email and social media messaging.
Having a prosperous holiday season takes planning and time. When you have an abundance of time like during the hot summer months, use it to put your plan into action.
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.