If you ask most independent retailers about a “slow season”, you’ll see many of them cringe and talk about the “J” months.
The J months are January when people are recovering from the holidays or hibernating because of weather, June and July when families are wrapping up the school year and diving into the Summer season and they would rather spend time outdoors, on vacation, traveling and doing activities that don’t involve their usual shopping routine. Foot traffic and sales can drop drastically for retailers during these times.
The J months don’t affect ALL retailers. If you’re a retailer located in a summer destination area, then these months are most likely your busy season. But these retailers have a slow season, too. Regardless of what your slow season months might be, as retailers, we all need to figure out how to get past the slump.
Not only can a slow season mean lower sales, but it can be disheartening to a retail store owner when there is no or minimal foot traffic. Days can be long, moods are affected and it can be hard to stay motivated.
In retail, most businesses will start to pick up again in the Fall and then most retailers are usually happy with foot traffic and sales during the holidays. If this seasonality fits your business, here are some tips on how to survive the slower months by being productive:
Tackle a Big Project
It might be upgrading your point of sale system, renovating an area of your store, creating an amazing window display, or organizing your storage room. We all have “big projects” we wish we had more time for during our busy season. Why not use this time to tackle it without the stress of figuring out when you can possibly squeeze it in?
Refresh Your Store and Floor Plan
You know how when you re-merchandise one small area in your store your customers find something they haven’t seen before? Imagine if you rearrange the entire store! If you only have an online presence, refresh your website!
This is a great time to handle inventory and make sure your product quantities are correct and your point of sale system is cleaned up.
E-commerce Set Up
Create that online shop you’ve been wanting to get on your website! This can sometimes involve hiring, but you might be able to use the “quiet” time to do the research yourself and get your online store set up.
Budget Your Finances!
If you like a consistent paycheck every month like me, then this one is important. Whether you use the Profit First system or another budgeting tool, make sure you plan out your year so that you can continue to pay yourself during the slow months.
Do Something for YOURSELF
Instead of feeling the burden of having to spend more time at the store to get things accomplished, leave the store when you actually close! Get out to spend more time with family, enjoy a hobby, get a massage, read a book, etc. Self-care is important and when retailers are busy, it’s easy to drop the ball on taking care of ourselves.
Time to Analyze
Use this time to run reports in your point of sale system or look at your social media insights. It’s so important to look at your numbers. Identify what is working for your business, what isn’t working, determine if you’re overbuying or under-buying merchandise, figure out what type of social media posts are creating the most engagement and come up with a posting plan for the next few months.
Start planning for your busy season, connect with potential vendors for pop-up shops, workshops or demonstrations in your store and if you’re a maker reach out to potential locations for your own pop-up shop or workshop.
Close For a Break
I NEVER recommend closing on a whim, but I also know retailers work hard and deserve a break. If you do close for a week or two, this needs to be planned and communicated to your customers well in advance. Click here to read my article on how to keep consistent store hours.
Go to Market
If this works in terms of timing, spend a few days at Market sourcing new and fun items for your store. Every year my sister and I leave the cold and snowy weather in January and spend a few days in Atlanta on a buying trip. It’s good for us to escape Ohio AND we tackle a year’s worth of buying in just a few days.
How do YOU get past the slow season? Comment below and tell me!
On a different note, click here to read a blog post on how to THRIVE during the slow season. I share some tips and recommendations for getting more sales and people into your door when traffic starts to slow down.