Welcoming the New Year

For most of independent shopkeepers, the 2020s have been quite a ride so far; starting with the pandemic in 2020, then the container crisis, the economy, and then more pandemic. There’s something about starting a new calendar that brings the expectation of better times – let’s hope that’s what 2024 has in store.

But before we move on to the first quarter, it’s time to wrap up the fourth. Now is the ideal time to take notes about what worked well this year, and what didn’t. This will be especially important for your seasonal buying in the future. Consumers’ current behavior is a surprisingly good predictor of their future behavior – up to a point. (Just because they loved Barbie pink this year doesn’t mean they will next year).

You’ll also want to list carryover that might impact your needs when you reorder. Even if you do a post-holiday sale –  we start ours at 40% off on December 27 – you’re not likely to sell every single item. Don’t forget to also take notes about how your staffing levels worked out this year, and whether you feel that more training, swing shifts, or other personnel considerations should be kept in mind for the future.

Looking ahead to January, be sure to let your employees know what their schedule will be soon – especially if you had increased staffing or expanded your hours during December. The sooner you let employees know how much income they can count on, the better. Perhaps you have some employees who only work for you for the holidays. If this is the case, consider keeping them on the email list for your staff newsletter so they’re kept in the loop all year. Encourage them to take a sub-shift for a year-round employee from time to time to keep their product knowledge up to date.

January and February are popular times for buying trips, so this is a good time to get your airline and hotel reservations lined up. If the show you’re going to offers hotel specials, check those rates against a site like Expedia to make sure you get the best deal.

A physical inventory should be taken once a year, and the beginning of January is a traditional time to schedule it. We like to take this opportunity to clean and refresh our displays, and to find out what we’ll need to order at the shows. But you’re out of the “bread-and-butter” items you always try to have on hand, reorder them before the holidays if you can.

As you wrap things up for 2023 and start looking at 2024, I hope you’ll also take some time to enjoy this special season outside of your shop. I wish you happy holidays, and all the best in the new year!

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder

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