Hitting a slow season in retail can be disheartening, especially for indie retailers. It’s easy to get discouraged when sales are down! But instead of focusing on the lack of sales, let’s consider how to make the most of your slow season—and what you can do to profit during it.

Before we dive in: are you a member of Master Shopkeepers? If yes, go to the MSK Lab and grab the Google Sheet planning tool from the Budgeting, Forecasting, and Planning Masterclass. It’s the perfect accompaniment to this podcast episode! It’ll help you plan your best year yet, slow seasons and all. 

Slow Seasons Come With An Amazing Gift: Time

One thing that I hear shopkeepers say over and over again is: “I don’t have time.” Whether you want to spruce up your shop, create a new display, host a workshop, or declutter your backroom, “I don’t have time” is often the excuse for putting it off. 

But here’s the truth: if you are complaining about your store being slow, you have time! You can make the most of your slow season by getting creative.

What You Shouldn’t Do During a Slow Season

A slow season in retail can really bring shopkeepers down. But there are a few things you shouldn’t do during a slow season, especially if you want to turn a profit.

DON’T wallow. 

I’m not saying this to be insensitive. I’m saying this because negativity begets negativity. And if you’re down in the dumps, you may not be in the right mindset to take positive action. 

However you can, turn that negative vibe into a positive one. I hope this podcast episode will drop a little nugget into your brain so you can start changing this. 

DON’T judge your business on one month of sales.

During slow seasons our sales dip, which can mean our moods dip, too. 

We ride highs and feel great after an incredibly successful holiday season. We’re on top of the world, feel BOSS, and have cash in the bank. 

And then January smacks us in the face.

But if you start viewing your business as a yearly project rather than a monthly or seasonal one, you’re going to better set yourself up for success.

This doesn’t mean monthly metrics, projections, and goals aren’t important. They are! But it does mean you’ll liberate yourself from allowing monthly revenue to determine your mood. 

What You Absolutely Should Do During a Slow Season

So, if you’re not wallowing and not judging yourself during a slow season, what should you do instead? Let’s look at how you can make the most of your slow season by focusing on profit (and having fun, too)!

DO create a fast cash injection.

Brainstorm everything that you can do to get some cash into your business. For example, could you sell through some old inventory

A cash injection will help you feel better and give you some cash to play with for new inventory or other store improvements.

DO challenge yourself to double your revenue.

Yep, I said it—try to DOUBLE your revenue during a slow season. 

If you’re competitive or find challenges motivating, then challenge yourself! I see this all the time in Master Shopkeepers when I host challenges. They are fun, light-hearted, and inspiring—especially around topics that some of us may not love. 

For example, I hosted an email marketing challenge last year. The challenge included a fun bingo card to track progress and gave away prizes. So it was fun, motivating, AND it created results for members. If you’re in Master Shopkeepers, all the replays and downloads are in the MSK Lab. I highly recommend that one.

Another great example: a Master Shopkeepers member recently drew a thermometer on a dry-erase board in their store’s office. I don’t think she realized how much it would motivate her to fill that thermometer! 

Challenges may not work for everyone, and that’s ok. If you’d like to try one, grab this free customizable Canva template to help you track your challenge. 

DO try something new and exciting in your store.

For many shopkeepers, our slow months are just around the corner (June, July, and/or August). Many of us dedicate time and effort into planning for Q4, and I get it. That makes sense. But it’s like we give up on slow months.

Slow months are the perfect time to…

  • Host workshops
  • Host events
  • Host a pop-up
  • Create that scratch-off promo card you’ve been wanting to work on
  • Collaborate with your biz neighbors on a small biz event to get more foot traffic in your area (i.e., a sidewalk sale, multi-store scavenger hunt, or other fun events!)

Instead of just waiting for the slow season and then resenting it, prepare for it!

DO plan for your BEST busy season yet.

Remember, I’m encouraging you to train your brain to focus on the YEAR, not the month. A slower season is the ideal time to put planning effort into what you know is your BUSIEST season.

So ask yourself: what can I do when it’s slow to alleviate the heavy weight and exhaustion of my busiest season?

As a shopkeeper myself, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “I always want to do that in Q4 and NEVER have the time.” Yep, even me! To help you plan for your busy season, I’ll be offering a special bonus for early buyers when we launch the new edition of the Savvy Shopkeeper planner this summer.

DO tap into Master Shopkeepers.

If you’re a member of Master Shopkeepers, there’s an endless amount of creative ideas shared in the group.

Search for keywords like event, workshop, promotion, or pop-up in both the group and in the MSK Lab for tons of ideas.

DO have some fun!

Some of you might be thinking, “But Kathy, you always tell me to treat my business like a BUSINESS. Not a hobby or jobby.” Yep, I sure do. But it doesn’t mean you can’t get joy out of your business or have fun!

The weight we put on ourselves as entrepreneurs is HEAVY. But I am training my brain differently these days, and you can, too. 

I hope this post helps your slow-season mood, and I genuinely hope it helps your brain make the most of your slow season! May your next slow season be more FUN and lighter than years past.

Resources

Timestamps

  • [03:00] Slow Seasons Come With an Amazing Gift: Time
  • [04:09] What You Shouldn’t Do During a Slow Season
  • [06:58] What You Absolutely Should Do During a Slow Season

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