It’s hard to believe that we are now less than two months away from Christmas.
The difference between a good Christmas and a bad Christmas can be crucial to the viability of a retail business. A strong festive season can not only provide a strong injection of profit, but also help a small business weather the quieter periods of the year.
Last year during the Christmas trade period – encompassing half of November and all of December – Australians splashed $47.5 billion on retail purchases. In order to successfully navigate the Christmas frenzy, it’s important that you’re well prepared for the shopping onslaught that is about to head your way.
There are five key areas to focus on to maximise the chances of your business having a merry Christmas in 2018:
Stock and Inventory Management
It may sound like the bleeding obvious but making sure you have the right level of stock on hand is critical to maximising sales. Running out of a popular item for even a short period of time between now and Christmas can result in a sizeable amount of lost sales walking out the door. Likewise, overstocking on an item may mean you have to sell the leftover items at a heavily discounted price post-Christmas for little or no profit.
Take the time to go back over how your business has performed the last few years at Christmas and what lines have experienced the biggest jump in sales. Factor in also any trends or fads that are currently taking place in your area of retail and you should have a good benchmark on what items to stock up on between now and Christmas.
Recruitment and Training
Make sure that you have enough staff on hand to accommodate for the jump in customer demand. Busier trading hours most probably means putting more staff on at certain points of the day and therefore you need to have a large enough pool of workers to draw from. Consider providing some temporary, casual opportunities to young people who will be looking for work opportunities over the holidays.
On top of this ensure that new staff are properly trained. Due to it being a busy time of year, there may not be the usual amount of time available to dedicate to training new employees. In this case, it’s important that senior staff members can step up and make sure that new workers are up to your business’s standard.
3. Customer Service and Product Knowledge
The lead up to Christmas can prove to be nothing short of an absolute frenzy for retail outlets. Regardless of the time of year, customer service is always a key tenet of a successful retail store, but at Christmas time it is essential. Ensuring your staff have razor sharp knowledge of all products can make last-minute Christmas shopping less of an ordeal for shoppers.
One of the biggest challenges during the festive season is keeping labour costs as efficient as possible. It is always a difficult balancing act between ensuring that you have the right number of staff on deck to meet customer demand, while not having staff costs eat too much into profit from sales. Again, take the time to review how this has been managed in previous years and monitor sales activity every week between now and Christmas to determine if there’s a sales pattern that warrants a change to the weekly roster.
Depending on where your business operates, there will almost certainly be changes to the permitted trading hours. More relaxed trading hours, particularly in the capital cities, allows you to be more flexible with when you choose to open your doors for trade and thereby more effectively cater to consumer demand. It’s important to remember that customer behaviour is different during Christmas – the customers know that certain times will be busy, so shoppers are happy to visit stores at times they usually wouldn’t (such as early morning or late at night).
Focusing on these five simple areas can not only make the Christmas trade period more profitable, but less stressful as well.
For further information on any queries you may have regarding the Christmas trade period, please do not hesitate to contact the NRA at 1800 RETAIL (738 245).