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The Small Business Retailer’s Guide To Preparing For The Holidays

By Maria Hickey on July 9th, 2022

It is amazing how quickly Christmas rolls around each year. Every retail business owner needs to be prepared for the holiday season because they will only get one chance at capitalising on their seasonal sales.

Everything starts with good planning and ensuring they have all their stock in place well before the holiday season. Here we look at why you need to prepare in advance and the best ways to get your retail shop ready for the holiday season.

Why Is It Important To Prepare Your Business For The Holidays?

We all know that the retail business has seasons and quarters. The fourth quarter that covers Christmas and New Year is often the most profitable for retailers and will fill the coffers with revenue to help the business get through the year ahead.

As soon as the kids return to school after the summer, retailers will shift their focus towards Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and the New Year. It is during these months that consumers will naturally start thinking about preparing for the holidays and will start to buy gifts to put away for Christmas.

To be a successful retailer, you need to keep one step ahead of your customers. As soon as summer is over, your customer’s minds will switch away from sun tan lotion, shorts and t-shirts and towards buying knitted jumpers, woolly socks, hats, gloves, scarves and Christmas gifts.

If the shelves of your shop are still full of summer stock, your customers will quickly turn away and go and find what they want from another shop that has prepared for their changing wants and needs.

This is why you shouldn’t delay changing out the stock on your shelves well ahead of Christmas and the New Year.

How Can I Prepare My Small Retail Business For The Holidays?

Don’t wait until you start hearing Christmas songs playing on the radio before getting your shop in shape for the holidays. Give yourself plenty of time to get organised in the run-up to Christmas.

Set some time apart to update your website with your Christmas opening hours. Consider adding a seasonal theme to your site to get your visitors into the festive spirit. You should also plan some seasonal social media posts on Facebook, Twitter etc.

It helps to decorate your shop with seasonal decorations to make the place look and feel more festive and welcoming. As you swap out the stock on your shelves for seasonal items, you should snap a photo of your displays and post them on Instagram.

Playing low-level background music in shops has been proven to relax customers and encourage them to spend more time browsing your shelves. This is a tip you can take from leading supermarkets. Switch to playing Christmas-themed background music after Bonfire night, as your customers will now start planning for the next celebration on the calendar.

Plan your seasonal inventory

There is always a spike in sales during the holiday season, so you should consider this when planning your seasonal stock inventory. It can help to look back at your sales from last year to use as a guide for planning your stock budget.

Did you run out of anything last year? What evergreen items tend to sell consistently well each year? Did your customers ask you for things you didn’t have in stock that you could start selling this year?

Before you order your stock, spend a little time online researching what products are trending and are likely to be hot gift items for Christmas. If you spot anything interesting, don’t leave it too late to stock up on them, as other retailers may snap them up before you get a chance.

One tip is to check what has been selling well on eBay that you could stock in your shop. Although shopping trends come and go, if you are working on a limited budget, it is always wise to invest in evergreen seasonal items that sell well every year.

Prepare Your eCommerce Site

If you run a retail e-commerce site, you must be just as prepared for the holidays as a traditional brick-and-mortar retail shop.

The world saw a massive shift towards online shopping during the pandemic, and even in these post-pandemic times, many people still prefer the convenience of buying online.

Consumers still want to shop safely for the holidays, so it is expected that e-commerce shops will be as busy as ever, especially with people who don’t like shopping in crowded shops and have little time to stand in a queue at the till.

Ensure that your online shop is up to date with your seasonal listings, including product details and an attractive photograph for a heightened visual experience. Ensure you have correct shipping information with expected delivery dates so your customers can feel reassured that their purchases will arrive in plenty of time for Christmas.

Make Your Premises Safe For Larger Numbers of Shoppers

If you own a small retail shop, it can be challenging to accommodate many shoppers on your premises at once. Although you want to make your shop as attractive and inviting as possible with festive decorations and product displays, ensure they are safely placed and won’t become a hazard to your shoppers.

It is worth looking at ways to improve the layout of your shop to avoid overcrowding and bottlenecks where customers may face obstructions that can be avoided.

Do you have a sales rack that impedes free movement on an aisle that can be temporarily relocated for the holidays? Can you divide your most popular stock items and display them evenly around your shop to avoid crowding and bottlenecks in one area?

Don’t forget that the weather will change as autumn and winter roll on. Make sure you have non-slip matting by the door to collect and soak up excess water from rain and snow that your customers will bring in. Keep hard floors dry to reduce the risks of slipping.

Create Eye-Catching Holiday Displays

Presentation is half the battle with Christmas sales. If you present your products well with attractive placements and an eye-catching window display, you will charm your customers and put them in the right mood for some Christmas shopping.

By rotating seasonal window displays, your customers will know your shop is an ideal place to buy Christmas gifts and seasonal products. Arranging well-placed seasonal in-store displays is an excellent way for regular customers to pick up extra gifts and products as they walk around your shop.

Don’t forget to take photos and share them on your social media pages!

Offer Pre-Orders & “Click and Collect”

Many of your customers would appreciate a more personalised service where you offer “click and collect” or the ability to pre-order what they want to guarantee their goods.

There will still be many people that are uncomfortable at the thought of shopping in a crowded shop, so if you can offer a pre-order and collection service, you may give yourself a profitable edge over your direct competitors.

Contactless payment at the till can also speed up your checkout and prevent long queues from building up.

Christmas insurance for your shop

Although we all know that business insurance for a shop is essential to help protect your staff, stock and premises, it can be worth taking out extra Christmas insurance to cover this time of year.

Retail shop business insurance coverage goes a long way to cover your ongoing insurance needs. Still, many retail businesses buy extra seasonal stock for what is commonly known as the busiest quarter of the retail calendar.

As well as buying extra stock insurance to cover your Christmas stock, it is also essential that you check your employer’s liability insurance if you plan to hire additional staff to cover the holidays.

Your employer’s liability insurance may cover yourself and a set number of permanent staff, but this can mean you are not covered for any temporary, seasonal staff. It is worth talking to our Brisco Business Insurance team to ensure your insurance needs are covered before the holiday season arrives. Our business insurance policies are designed to offer peace of mind, allowing you to focus on what you do best: running your business.

Maria Hickey

For more than 20 years, Maria has worked in the insurance sector and has extensive underwriting and customer service expertise. Maria is an experienced Senior Underwriter with a particular specialism for shop, office and surgery related insurance.

All articles by Maria Hickey

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