The Vice President of the Vine Vendor Network, Sandra D’Auria, always says “The J months are the worst in retail.” D’Auria is right; January, June, and July are notoriously low for retail sales. Deconstructing the function of retail and the mindset of shoppers, it makes perfect sense: January is after the rush of the holiday season and people are watching their pennies, June is after the push for Mother’s Day – and even though it does embody Father’s Day, Mother’s Day encourages more retail purchases, and July is the height of summertime when people are spending their money on vacations and weekend trips. In short, if your retail business is struggling right now, stop stressing, it’s normal.
When it comes to retail and small business, you need to move your mindset away from the current season and start projecting to the next two. You may not be making your numbers now, but it doesn’t mean you won’t for the year.
What to Do in Your Business During Off Seasons
- Look ahead to the next major sales holidays that work best for your business or target market. For example, if you sell children’s clothing, you want to start building your branding for the back-to-school season. If you sell food items, the fall and harvest season would probably be the next best focus. Plan your sales strategy – Come up with some clever marketing, create some ads, pre-write some newsletters.
- To follow-up with #1, start buying and/or making (depending on your business) for the upcoming season. Look at your numbers from last year and project a 10%-20% growth and have enough of popular product on hand to bring you through the holiday seasons.
- Use this time to get your bookkeeping in order. Organize all of your accounting and close up tight spots. Look to see where your heavy spending is and start shopping to see where you could save money to reduce COGS and increase profits.
- Reach out to your best customers and send them thank-you notes letting them know you appreciate them. This both serves to build customer relationships as well as keep your business in the back of their minds during the off-seasons.
- Clear out any inventory that has been sitting on your shelf for six months. You can run a sale, do a mystery box, include it as special gifts with a certain dollar amount purchase, just move the inventory off your shelves. Any inventory that sits is lost money. *A note on sales – If you run them too often, you can start to diminish your brand and people will just wait for the next sale, but if you market this correctly – such as an “Annual Clearance Event,” then customers will understand this is a one-time opportunity.
- Fix up your web presence. Check your website, edit any old copy and change old photos. Do a Google search for you and your brand to ensure all information is up-to-date and customers have a way of contacting you. Add your business to popular free sites for free marketing.
- If you are in direct sales, have consultants or employees, start acquiring resumes or searching for new candidates. Now is the perfect slow time to properly train new people to be successful during the holidays. You can offer them support and show them the ropes.
- If you haven’t booked holiday vendor shows already, now is a great time to reach out to your old connections and any new possible connections to ensure you’re on the list to receive vendor contracts.
What are some other tips you have for keeping your business moving during the slower seasons?