VOICE OF THE INDUSTRY: Christmas Preparations

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CMJ CEO explains why retailers should prepare early for Xmas

How early should you start thinking about Christmas? The Company of Master Jewellers chief executive Willie Hamilton describes the preparations that jewellery retailers should be making for the festive season.

"For Christmas 2010, you should start preparing in September or October – but I should clarify that I mean September or October of 2009 – almost 15 months before this year’s event.

Any retailer worth their salt will start to record their trading reports and make daily diary entries in the lead up to the Christmas period. This will give them their first reference point for the trading period in the following year. If you do not have a detailed record of how you traded the previous year, then you are already too late in your preparation for this year. So if you are about to ask your staff ‘when did we put up the Christmas decorations last year?’ it means you are not in control of your business. If you do not have a detailed record of how you traded in 2009, it’s time to resolve that for 2011 and start detailed records of trading patterns, key sales, marketing activity (for your business and your competitors), opening hours and even the weather.

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Skilled retailers will already be in ‘festive mode’, with your trading hours agreed and staff scheduling in place. Your marketing plan will have been signed off, and staff briefed on the activity. Packaging and stock will be ordered from your key suppliers, sales forecasts prepared and sales targets discussed and agreed with your teams, and the date for the Christmas staff party booked. Keeping sales and daily diary reports is not just for one year, either, as the day of the week that the 25th falls on can impact on trading too. This annual change is what I believe brings about the comment, ‘it gets later each year,’ as we tend to look at the previous year’s sales patterns and forget that the build up to Christmas Eve is different each year. So, keeping trading reports for a number of years and reviewing them together is also a vital preparation tool.

It’s never too early is the glib answer, because supply chain issues and market trends can impact on retailers all year round. It’s a complex planning operation, but within our collective of retailers in CMJ, we have the great advantage of discussing and advising each other ensuring a successful trading period for all of us. And, of course, the doors may close on Christmas Eve, but the internet sales start on Christmas morning, followed by the queues for refunds and replacements on the 27th Dec, all of which will impact on planning for next year."

 

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