by Steve Pruitt

Q: I’m getting ready to do my holiday buy, but this prolonged retail slowdown has left me wondering how to plan the season. What do you suggest?

Steve Pruitt: That depends on a number of factors, so let’s go through them:

1) How are you doing now? If your business is trending down by over 10 percent you need to be conservative.

2) How did you do during the holiday period in 2016? If you were down, perhaps plan more evenly.

3) Location — Are you in an area that gets good foot traffic at holiday? Traffic drives business, so if you are not in a high traffic area plan more conservatively.

4) Are you a mature business or a young sprout? Mature businesses tend to have more predictable growth.

5) How mature is your selling force, and do they have deep client relationships? If the season is flat, a sharp, experienced sales team can make up the difference.

As you may have figured out there are no easy answers to your question. Put together a list of where your business stands in terms of performance and other factors, such as traffic and sales experience, and start your planning from there.

My guess is that 50 percent to 60 percent of stores will have increases over the holiday period. You have to build a smart strategy to make sure you’re on the right track.

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