What To Do If You’re Anticipating A Tough Holiday Season

The holidays use to mean big sales increases for retailers. They use to bring excitement and anticipation of bonuses to pay out, all while enjoying the sound of cash registers opening and closing along the way. Now, however, many small and independent retailers struggle with how to plan for the holidays without crushing their margins, sales goals and markdown strategies. It’s hard enough to survive in retail on any given day anymore, but when you throw in the competition that the holidays create between retailers, it becomes even harder.

Ways To Cope

Planning ahead is the only way to get through this season. A few ways small and independent retailers can benefit from doing this include the following:

1. When planning your holidays, make sure you don’t overextend your open to buy dollars. This is essential in staying on track with what your store sales plans are. You want to also avoid too many sales and markdowns that may leave you short the dollars you need to pay full wholesale cost on the products you brought in. While it’s tempting to get tangled up in the holiday sale madness, remember to stay true to your store. There are other ways to entice customers, including fun holiday shopping events, free gift wrapping, easy return or exchange policies for gift purchases and much more.

2. Keep the hours you have associates working in control and on track with what you budget for. If you have extended shopping hours and store times, make sure you plan for this, as well. The weekends – and possibly weekdays – may mean more foot traffic, and with that you may want additional sales support working. Plan in advance so that you can afford to pay out these extra working hours without compromising the return of sales for your store.

3. Plan ahead for unexpected costs. Whether it’s repairing a frozen pipe in your store basement or buying some extra products due to great sell through, having a “holiday” cushion is a great way to feel prepared for the unexpected. Even if your cushion is small, it gives you something to lean on if you absolutely need to. If you can’t plan for a cushion this year, make it a goal to have one for next year. It’s amazing how much better you will rest with this emergency back up in place. As little as $500 can really take the ease off store owners, so make sure to plan for a “holiday” cushion that is right for you, your budget and your store needs.

Finally, eliminate any unnecessary purchases. Whether it’s eggnog for your customers all day long or little gifts for your retail store neighbors, find ways to budget and control your costs. You don’t want to eliminate the fun and special occasions that come with the holiday shopping season, but you do need to be in control of where every dollar is spent and if each dollar spent is absolutely necessary.

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