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If you’re anything like me, the holidays often sneak up on you.  If you are a busy entrepreneur, this may be particularly true for you too. No matter what time of year you’re reading this post – there’s absolutely something you can be doing to prepare your retail business for the holidays. A Salesforce report that came out in June of this year reported that 42% of customers worldwide and 37% of US shoppers are planning to shop earlier due to inflation (Salesforce). Preparing for the season early also decreases the likelihood that you’ll spend the week before Thanksgiving working long and stressful days trying to prepare for the busy season at the last minute. 

Have you experienced any of these common holiday retail scenarios?

  • Not having enough inventory on hand and losing out on sales.
  • Finally getting around to ordering holiday inventory to find that the items you want are back ordered or out of stock.
  • Deciding to host a holiday event last minute and the only people who attend are your mom and your sister-in-law.
  • Failing to recognize the community-wide marketing efforts you could have benefited from such as Shop Small campaigns or Chamber newsletters
  • Lastly and most importantly – holiday burnout.

Now, how can you avoid these common scenarios? The answer is simple but can be challenging, plan ahead.

Some simple steps to take to help you plan include:

  • Blocking out time to work on your holiday preparations. Set aside a morning to brainstorm, research, strategize and look at upcoming holiday trends in your industry.
  • Examine your sales and inventory from last year’s holiday season.
  • Look at what your local Chamber of Commerce or Main Street Association is doing – are there any marketing campaigns or events you could take part in?
  • Create a holiday prep calendar.
  • Create a holiday marketing plan and budget.
  • Involve your team in the planning and delegation of duties.
  • Don’t forget to evaluate your holiday season after it is complete. Note any successful marketing tactics, areas to improve upon, sales numbers, issues, complaints, comments, or anything else you want to remember for the next holiday season.

For many retailers, this is a lot of extra work on top of an already long list of tasks, but the more you plan and prepare, the easier it will be each year as you build upon your successes. By planning ahead, you can strategize ways for you and your staff to avoid holiday burnout. This is essential to a successful holiday sales season.

If you are ready to start planning, an SBDC advisor can help you get started and keep you accountable for your schedule, plans, and goals. They can assist you with creating an advertising plan, honing your social media tactics, and budgeting for the holiday season.

About the Author: Audie enjoys seeing community members bring their business ideas to life and is eager to help them grow and thrive. As an entrepreneur, Audie has worked in art licensing and graphic design and has 10 years of experience in customer service and marketing through her work in public libraries. Her education and experience have given her knowledge in print and digital marketing, creating marketing plans, social media marketing, and business planning. When not supporting local businesses through the Wyoming SBDC Network, Audie enjoys getting outside to ride her bike, ski, and paint.

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All Wyoming SBDC Network programs and services are provided to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Language assistance services for clients with limited English proficiency will be provided. Contact: Jill Kline at (307) 766-3405 or [email protected]
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