Always "Be Prepared" for Holiday Sales

by : 

Jean Haller

August 1, 2014

I was a girl scout for many years, an experience that gave me many fond memories and probably started me on my road to becoming an entrepreneur—I won the Cookie-Selling Award every year! The Girl Scout “Be Prepared” motto is explained in the 1947 Girl Scout Handbook: “A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency.” I believe this applies to all of us in retail, whether you were a Girl Scout or not. Do not put off holiday planning. It is never too early to “Be Prepared”!

Schedule your marketing

Now is the time to plan the dates for different holiday promotions. What is the date of your open house? When will you start marketing holiday gifts? What promotions can you do for Halloween and Thanksgiving? Remember, Small Business Saturday is growing in popularity among shoppers. Planning ahead will allow you the time to have the merchandise you need on hand and get the word out.

Review and plan staffing

Don’t wait until the beginning of December to realize you need to train extra staff. Talk with your staff now to see if they have additional availability leading up to the holidays. Decide now if you need temporary help. Reach out to potential employees and get them trained early. Your permanent staff will thank you for being prepared.

Know your budget

The fourth quarter is the most important sales time of the year for most retailers. Knowing your sales projections and having enough inventory to meet these projections is most important now. Be ready to increase or decrease orders depending on your actual sales. There is a fine line between too much and not enough inventory, and either situation will affect your bottom line.

Check your supplies

Check your bags and boxes now. Do you have enough gift certificates to take you through the season? Ask suppliers if they have any pre-holiday specials on supplies you can take advantage of. Consider adding special packaging for the holidays. Gift bags with festive tissue and a little ribbon impresses customers and brings them back to shop, especially during the holiday crunch.

Plan for reorders

Managing a gift store during the holidays is not easy. Consider delegating reorder reporting to different staff members—you don’t have to do it all yourself. Remember to allow enough time to get product back in stock for the last few holiday weeks. You can’t make sales unless you have product to sell! Customers will be disappointed if the items you are known for are not on your shelves when they come in to shop. Know your final date for taking special orders for customers, too.

Jean Haller is Editor-at-Large for Retailing Insight and owner of Journeys of Life in Pittsburgh, Pa., 25 years in business and 2012 COVR Retailer of the Year.