Holiday Retail Planning: Why Sooner Is Better Than Later

Are you worried about customers walking into stores in early autumn and looking for pumpkins, only to cringe when they see Christmas displays? Forget about it! It is common knowledge that retailers have begun putting out Christmas decorations sooner and sooner every year. It may seem too early in some cases, but retailers benefit from this practice. How do you walk the thin line of gearing up for the holiday season, without turning off customers, though? The answer comes with very careful planning.

While the weather has only just begun to cool off, and the leaves haven’t even started to fall, customers are already mentally preparing for the holidays; whether they want to admithallowgivingmas cartoon
that or not. Between the gifts they buy and the events they attend, people need to have a plan in place before the holiday season arrives. For consumers, the expense of the holidays has forced more and more people to make a holiday plan for themselves, as well. With that in mind, as a shop owner, planning ahead for the holiday retail season can be your biggest asset.

Getting a Holiday Plan In Place

Depending on your actual business, a holiday plan should be in place by July. It doesn’t need to be set in stone, but doing this gives you plenty of time to gear up before the holiday crunch. Start by ordering new displays, signage, and taking a look at what merchandise is performing well, and which did poorly during the last year. While the days of last-minute shoppers rushing around to finish things the week of Christmas isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination, the online marketplace has certainly made their numbers dwindle, especially with 2-day shipping. Take a look at your data:

  • What promos have worked well in the past?
  • What shipping rates can you afford?
  • What are the best marketing tools to help you increase both repeat business and incremental sales?

holiday spending bar graphCrunching numbers from the last holiday seasons can help you to formulate a strategy for the upcoming season. Use a holiday planning calendar, so your plan is visible, make sure to schedule deadlines, display changes, and the estimated times of the arrival of new merchandise. Share this calendar with all stakeholders.

Just because you start planning early does not mean you need to have a decorated tree as a window display in October. However, now is the time start implementing subtle hints. A sale here or a color scheme there can help supplement your customers’ planning, or plant seeds in their mind about holiday purchases. Advertise holiday specials like layaway programs, free shipping dates or other limited holiday offers. Customers may not be ready to start wrapping presents, but they will take note of upcoming holiday promos.

And while customers may wait for a holiday offer for larger ticket items such as electronics, placing smaller items or cross-season items out around Halloween can be beneficial. Giving a taste of the upcoming holiday puts customers in the mindset without turning them off. Often customers pick up a few smaller items as the holidays are only a few months away. These little things can greatly benefit your bottom line.

Taking the care and time to plan your holiday merchandising is well worth the effort. The truth is; it is never too early to have a holiday merchandising plan in place. The more detailed your plan is, the more likely you are to increase your holiday profits. Being prepared will always give you the upper hand. You don’t have to overlook Halloween to start on Christmas merchandising.

Whether it’s prepping your store for the upcoming holiday season or anytime you need retail store supplies, Specialty Store Services is available to give you advice or take your order. Call us at 800-999-0771, Live Chat with us on our website, or you can order 24 hours a day online at Same day shipping is available until 3 PM, Monday – Friday.