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August 2014 | Vol. XIII - No. 8
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Take These 9 Actions In Summer For Successful Winter Holiday Sales

Christmas in July...or August. We've all heard the phrase.

It's summer and a lot of retailers are thinking about what they will do differently for the upcoming holidays.

In a media world itching to say how expectations are soft for retail sales this shopping season, you might be worried, and that's definitely understandable. You can easily drown in a sea of worry.

But you're reading this post so take heart!

Here are my top nine actions you need to take to have a successful holiday season in 2014.

Clean out your stockroom. The FDA recently admitted that they found smallpox vials from the fifties in a walk-in cooler no one had regularly looked at. Old merchandise in your back room is just as deadly. Take a helper and remove every box, open it, sort it and throw out the junk. Put anything possibly salvageable on sale prior to Labor Day.

Clean out your store. I'm talking about down to the fixtures here. Remove every box, bag or tag. Sweep or mop every floor surface. Get your carpets cleaned. The whole goal is to look as new as possible.

Repair, repaint and relight. Once everything is clean, notice the chipped paint, the broken furniture, the yellowed signage and fix them.  New customers notice this each time; now so must you.

Open up your floor. Retail trends for 2014 include creating more space for customers to move in and more space around items so they stand out. Use smaller round tables nested around each other to create dramatic display areas for high-profit items throughout your store.

Be merciless with markdowns.
Before you put your merchandise back on the shelf, consult your sales reports. Each product should have to justify its existence coming into the fall and if it doesn't make the grade, add it to your Labor Day sale pile.

Organize your products into lands.
If you can, move your store around completely so established customers will notice things they surely missed before.  Consider new signage that makes those lands obvious.

Review every one of your employees. From C-Level executives to the warehouse workers, summer is a great time to catch up with each and every employee. Set expectations, tell them your plans to get their buy-in, and collaborate with them to make this holiday season your best.

Create a timetable for adding part-timers. Hiring around Halloween won't cut it. Consider that this is your most important season and allow sufficient time for training. Start hiring mid-September.

Create a 12-week plan of emails that finish December 31. You won't have time to come up with these during the rush of the holiday season, so they are often forgotten until it is too late. Don't get overwhelmed - you know the main times already - after Thanksgiving, the week prior to Christmas, and day after Christmas. If you want to really be prepared, create those in Facebook and schedule them now so you have one less thing to think about. 

Wrap up

Having a prosperous holiday season takes planning and time. When you have an abundance of time like during the hot months of summer, use it to put your plan in action.

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Bob PhibbsWriter's Bio: Bob Phibbs is the Retail Doctor®, a best-selling author and speaker who has helped thousands of independent businesses compete. His new book, The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business has received praise from both Inc. magazine and USA Today and can be found at your local bookstore or ordered at He and his work have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur magazine. Questions? Contact Bob at This article was reprinted with permission of the author, Bob Phibbs, aka The Retail Doctor®. Read more articles by this author

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