Q: As we round the bend into fall and holiday, what are you expecting for retail sales?
Steve Pruitt: Like each of the previous three months, location is going to be a key factor in holiday performance. Stores in suburban markets and resort locations will continue to do better than stores in urban centers.
The other big factor, of course, is the pandemic. No matter where we are in the curve, Christmas will come, and we will see a sales bump in all stores; the question is to what degree.
One consideration is how promotional you’ll be. It will probably seem like the big boxes are giving it away. Don’t get caught up in over-promoting. After all that we have been through this year, families are going to see the holidays as a step back to normal.
More people will stay home, rather than travel, and that can only be good for local retailers. (The increase we’re seeing in resort locations is mainly due to wealthy people staying in their second homes, not due to vacations.) Most customers will feel more comfortable shopping in their local store, rather than a giant box store, because it feels safer.
Just think: where can you go now, feel safe, and do a little socializing? The answer is your local store. Communicate this message to your customers. Plan many small, special events, and start inviting.
Holiday can offer a significant sales increase if you plan well and keep yourself from discounting too deeply. Make your theme “home for the holidays” and give it all you’ve got.
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