Staying Focused When Post-Holiday Madness Sets In

Staying Focused When Post-Holiday Madness Sets In

Clever post-holiday messaging: “Now that the holidays are over, why not get what you really want?”

A Happier Start to the New Year?

By Michael McEnaney

When yet another holiday season has come and gone, and you survived yet again, it will be time to take a celebratory sip of your favorite beverage, high five your employees and take a deep breath.

Well, maybe not.

The more savvy retailers are realizing the holiday selling season doesn’t end the day after Christmas anymore. While the months of January and February have typically been spent treading water, we spoke with a few retail wizards who claim there are a few simple tricks that can turn those first two months of the year from blah to RAH!

New York retail consultant Lauren Sosik tells us that while a good deal of January is consumed with the always dreaded returns, rather than simply accepting this as a part of the post-holiday ritual, look at it as an opportunity for victory.

“Too often returns are treated as inevitable profit eaters, but if you can simply get your employees to spark conversations around why the product failed to meet expectations and attempt to steer them in a new direction, you can turn this exchange into something positive,” she explained. “You’ll be surprised how frequently you can flip a return into a new sale and make a dissatisfied customer a happy one.”

Another area Sosik feels many retailers struggle with in the post-holiday months is what the inside and outside of the store look like.  Often times the problem isn’t goods or services but their presentation.

“Look, we know you had the store all dolled up for the holidays, but just because they’re over doesn’t mean the place needs to be void of personality,” she added. “An environment that feels ‘post-holidays’ can be depressing. Move right into a new theme, and at the very least, be back in order and ready for the new year.”

Thank Your Staff
Former photo retailer and professional photographer Richard Lewin tells us the post-holiday period is also a good time to focus on a group of people who just ran through walls for you—your staff.

The one-time head of Jaydee Camera in New York claims the weeks right after the holidays are a time to offer staffers a few rewards for their hard work during the oftentimes-crazy holiday selling season.

“These are your go-to people and they just spent six weeks in the trenches,” Lewin explained. “Throw a party, time off with pay, get their families involved. Whatever you do just make sure you reach out and say thanks, show some love and make them feel their hard work is truly appreciated.”

Gift Card Craze
The growth in gift card popularity has reached incredible levels. Several estimates we eyed are claiming this holiday season spending on tiny plastic or digital gift cards could reach record-breaking levels. According to the National Retail Federation, the average person buying gift cards will spend $172.74 this season, up from $163.16 last year, with total spending expected to reach $31.74 billion. Wow!

Thus, Sosik claims rather than just looking at card redemptions as an already paid for transaction, think about ways to encourage additional sales with clever “treat yourself” in-store messaging and instructing staff to engage the customer in such banter.

“Every year in January I see some very clever messaging that centers around the notion, ‘Now that the holidays are over, why not get what you really want?’ This is a great way to get people to go beyond the amount on the card,” Sosik added. “The idea that any staffer wouldn’t think a customer will go beyond the amount on the card is absurd. The card is just house money and typically, with just a bit of friendly encouragement, they’ll be in a spending mood.”

Above all, Lewin adds it’s important to just recharge the battery quickly once the holidays pass and refocus efforts, making sure your customer is the centerpiece.

“You can’t lose that holiday pep you may have had when dealing with your customers in January and February. Always be genuine and interested in what’s happening in their lives and what they’re doing with your products,” he advised. “Listen for opportunities when you’re engaging them. Your kindness and genuine engagement will open up doors to additional sales with just a small amount of extra effort.”