by Steve Pruitt

Q: Now that the sales cycle has finally ramped up, how can I keep the momentum going?

Steve Pruitt: That’s an important question that we should all be asking ourselves. After all, we were in an extended down cycle after the Great Recession, so it has been a while since we have had the advantages of being in a thriving marketplace. It’s time to put away survival strategies and get into month-over-month growth strategies.

The first thing you want to do is look at is your trends over the last 90-120 days to see what has been working. Ask yourself: Which classes are trending, and which vendors are driving those trends? (Looking at older data really won’t give you good information on what’s going on in the marketplace now.)

We know from digging in to our clients’ data that Sportswear has finally made a comeback in men’s, leading sales across the country. If this is also happening in your store, you will want to double down on this business by identifying the hot designers and reinvesting in these lines. Then you want to make sure that you have something new to show your customers, every month if possible.

The stores that are really doing well are engaging their customers in ways that are not directly about the merchandise. Parties are always successful at bringing a sense of fun into stores, but you’re going to want to take it a step further. I have been hearing of numerous stores offering pop-up bars for shopping evenings. Remember that in addition to the merchandise it is about the experience. Plan regular events that reinforce your brand’s ethos.

Finally, run a tight ship. Look at your numbers week-to-week. Just because we’re in a growth cycle doesn’t mean that you can take a step back from your planning process. Careful planning will keep you prepared for whatever comes ahead. It’s not just the growth cycle that’s changing—the culture is changing as well, so you really have to pay attention to see when adjustments need to be made.

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