Holiday Planning is Important for Small Business!

The holiday season is an exciting time for all, and a particularly critical season for businesses’ success. As 2014’s season fast approaches, businesses are eager to acquire additional labor to assist with operations in the hectic atmosphere resulting from the holiday rush. A critical factor that contributes to a successful holiday season is the determination of the particular business’s holiday operating hours and of the appropriate amount of labor to recruit and hire. These predictions would be impossible without insight into industry trends and holiday sales projections.

As October is coming to an end, many businesses are in the stages of hiring employees for the holiday season. The National Retail Federation projects that this season’s holiday sales will increase 4.1% from last season’s. This increase is rather substantial compared to years past indicating the rise of consumer confidence joined by an increased spending power of the average consumer.

Although the average consumer plans to spend more liberally, businesses mustn’t forget that consumers still seek bargains and discounts. Discounting is a valuable technique to satisfy consumer expectations and lure in and maintain a steady stream of consumers during the holidays. While more spending may occur this season, a large portion of that spending will likely be dominated by discounted items and snagged deals. The average consumer desires the satisfaction of knowing that he/she is receiving the most bang for his/her buck.

Last holiday season was accompanied by harsh, cold weather that kept consumers out of stores and yielded a spike in online sales. With e-commerce providing a platform for an increased interest in online shopping, physical stores must develop techniques to attract customers to their stores, which may prove more difficult for small businesses that do not operate using web-based transactions. However, even those businesses that have the advantage of online retail must carefully monitor their online sales. Because of the low attendance of in-store shopping last season, businesses were faced with extremely large amounts of last-minute online purchases.

While the last-minute spike is beneficial from a year-end sales perspective, the inability to adapt to the increased demand of home deliveries proved detrimental to many businesses. Many companies found themselves in the position of not being able to deliver goods to homes in a timely fashion, and package delivery companies were overwhelmed with business that they were not adequately prepared to keep up with.

The holidays are an exciting time for consumers and businesses alike. With holiday cheer in the air, this season’s increased consumer spending projections are likewise something to cheer about. However, inadequate planning and an inefficient employee network could lead to a not-so-cheerful year end.

Larissa Hoffmann
The University of Scranton
KSOM Women’s Entrepreneurial Center

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