How to Win During the Holiday Sales Season
by Greg Manning, ABCP | September 30, 2021
Part Three: Managing Post-Christmas activity
Although Christmas has come and gone, the work of a retailer is not yet complete. In order to finish the season strong, you have to manage post-Christmas sales and ensure you don’t lose all the profits you worked so hard to gain. Here are a few tips to ensure you don’t lose your holiday momentum.
- Prior to December 26, determine what products will go on sale.
Not everything has to be marked down after Christmas. If the product can retain its value and you can sell it next year, pack it away.
- Make sure all the boxes are with the products.
Often boxes are in the backroom for the products out on the sales floor. To execute post-Christmas sales properly, make sure the customer can pick up the box with the product and take it to the check-out counter. Make sure the staff doesn’t have to hunt for anything. This ensures for a smoother check-out process.
- No gift boxes with sale merchandise.
In season, providing gift boxes for products is good customer service. During the post-Christmas sales, there is no need to add gift boxes to already discounted items. Often the customer is buying the product for themselves and a gift box is not needed. Keep it simple. No gift box with discounted purchases.
- Merchandise the store with sale product in mind.
Have all the sales merchandise in the front of the store in high-traffic areas. Customers that shop the after-Christmas sale are just looking for sale products. Make it easy for them and they will respond with solid purchases.
- Signage, signage, signage.
Make sure the sales sections are clearly marked and easy to understand. If you mark products down 40 percent, make sure the sales team can do the math quickly to help customers know how much they will be paying for the product.
- Consider the cadence of your markdowns.
There is a fine line you walk with markdowns. You want to mark down the seasonal product enough that customers want to purchase it, but you don’t want to mark it down so much that you give away gross margin dollars. Consider your timing and have a plan for those from the start.
- Advertise your markdown cadence at the right time.
You need to let customers know when the holiday merchandise will be lowered in price. However, you don’t want to let people know more than a day in advance. Social media is an effective way to communicate a change in markdown percentages.
- Start highlighting new merchandise.
You will have a considerable amount of customers coming in post-Christmas, so why not showcase some new merchandise. Not only does it create some interest, but it fills the shelves with new merchandise and makes the store look full.
- Give your team a well-deserved rest.
Acknowledge your team for a job well done. Staff enough to have coverage but keep it as light as possible. Retail work is challenging during the holidays and your team deserves a break.
- Evaluate the data.
Now that the season is over, it’s time to evaluate the data. It’s essential to make notes while it is still fresh in your mind regarding what went well and what can be improved upon next year. Think about products that customers loved which sold out early, and products they didn’t find as interesting. Determine if your marketing brought customers into the store. If you used a gift with purchase, did it deliver the intended incremental sales increase. Start the Open-to-Buy process. What is your budget to purchase merchandise based on existing inventory, projected sales, and ending inventory. Be ready to go to market in January.
Now, it’s time for a big sigh of relief. The holiday season is over. Take some time to reflect on your successes and challenges that need to be addressed because another holiday sales season is just around the corner.
Florida SBDC at USF, Polk County
Specialty: Cash Flow Management, Strategic Planning, Startup
Greg Manning opened his first retail location in Lakeland, Fla., more than 30 years ago. While cash flow planning and analysis, and inventory productivity were constants in his businesses, he experienced virtually all aspects of starting, growing, and closing a small business over the course of 30 years. He negotiated dozens of leases and designed and implemented various marketing plans. With more than 250 employees, Manning dealt with various human resources issues. In addition to his operating career, Manning was also involved in the financing side of business as the president of the board of directors at Crown Managers Acceptance Corporation. The company had a facility of $150 million dollars to lend via term loans and working capital loans, providing a lifeline of funding to a multitude of retail customers. Manning earned a bachelor’s degrees in finance and economics from the University of Florida. He is also a certified Associate Business Continuity Professional (ABCP).