According to projections released last week by both the National Retail Federation (NRF) and its digital division Shop.org, the forecasts for holiday sales in 2012 are looking good. In fact, NRF’s anticipated increase of 4.1% to $586.1 billion in sales this year is higher than the 10-year average of 3.5%, which is some much-needed good news for large and small business owners alike.
“This is the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession,” according to NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “In spite of the uncertainties that exist in our economy and among consumers, we believe we’ll see solid holiday sales growth this year.”
Chiming in for the first time this year, Shop.org also expects this year’s online holiday sales to jump considerably. It projects an increase of 12 percent over last year. That translates into as much as $96 billion this season.
With numbers like that in the offing and given that the months of November and December are upon us, the question for any small business owner is: Are you ready?
Have you crafted a plan for what you want to do this holiday season that will draw business and allow you to get a piece of this year’s considerable pie? Have you put in place the marketing strategies and tools that will help you attract this year’s holiday shopper and maximize your potential profits?
Here’s a quick checklist of some of the most important things you should already be thinking about, if you haven't already…
• Are systems in place to keep your operation running efficiently as things begin to pick up, including your sales management and accounting tools?
• Are your inventory levels where they need to be, especially on those items that you believe will be this year’s hottest sellers?
• Have you stocked up on all your shipping supplies?
• If you’re planning to offer holiday incentives and discounts, now is a good time to get those details nailed down and to devise and implement a communications strategy to market them to your customers.
• Have you thought about business logistics with regard to shipping deadlines? Are your customers aware of what they need to do and by when on their end to ensure they have what they need from you in time for the holiday?
• Is your website holiday-ready?
• Have you thought through the social media and other marketing strategies you are going to use this year to drive traffic to your site and/or your location?
• Do you need some extra help to manage things this season? If so, now is the time to hire.
For more information on what you can expect as a small business owner this holiday season, the NRF has just posted its 2014 Holiday Survival Kit, a report on this year’s forecast, consumer trends and historical retail sales data.