How to Deal with the Post-Holiday Sales Slump

Now that the hubbub of holiday shopping — and subsequent gift-card redemption — is over, business is bound to be slow for many retailers. “January post-holiday sales are expected to plunge to some of the lowest levels in years, thanks to a surge in credit-card spending over the Christmas season,” Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, recently told Reuters.

Rather than slashing prices to fight for customers, consider focusing on internal improvements and strategies that can help you grow the company organically. Here are a few smart ways to make use of your downtime.

  • Create an internal business plan. You may have put together a business plan when you launched your company, but have you revised it based on what you’ve learned since then? Go over your current goals — and how you aim to reach them.
  • Renovate and redecorate. Get started on those inconvenient renovation projects you’ve put off for months. Or simply spring for a fresh coat of paint. Perhaps your brand image needs freshening up, too? Work with a professional designer to create new signs and marketing images for your store.
  • Invest in education. Sign up for training courses that will help you become better and more efficient at tasks you’re already doing, or enroll in classes that will allow you to offer additional services to clients. For example: If you run a web-development agency, learn JavaScript. If you’re a bakery owner, invest in a master class on making sourdough.
  • Network. If business is slow for you, it probably is for neighboring shops, too. Attend mixers planned by your area’s chamber of commerce, or organize your own get-togethers with fellow entrepreneurs. These events not only offer a chance to socialize, but also may lead to collaborations that will help everyone attract more customers this year.
  • Follow up. Send personal notes to customers or clients who you haven’t seen in a while. When people know that you appreciate their business, they’re more likely to come back when they’re ready to spend again.

About Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is a principal at the content marketing agency Eucalypt Media. She's written about business, marketing, and entrepreneurship for publications including BNET, TheAtlantic.com, Inc.com, and owns and operates the positive news site Gimundo. Follow her on Twitter at @kathrynhawkins.
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