As the holiday season approaches, many retail stores begin to prepare for the sales ahead by getting ready with credit card processing systems and seasonal workers. However, one question that stores commonly deal with is how to set their sales schedule.  When sales are placed too close to each other, customers may ignore or lose track of the promotions. However, relying on a single big sale may cause a business to miss out on other opportunities throughout the season.  By effectively spreading out sales, retail stores and small businesses can get the most out of their holiday promotions.

How to Determine the Ideal Sale Schedule

In order to increase sales during the lucrative holiday season, businesses should have a number of sales and promotions. However, businesses should not have a constant stream of sales in an attempt to attract customers. An ideal sale schedule should be tailored according to various factors such as target audience, type of industry and budget. The following strategies can help businesses understand when and how often to have a sale:

1.    Sales Forecasting

Does your store have financial records on sales in the past years? By using this data, store owners can conduct sales forecasting to determine when it is the best time to have a sale. Sales forecasting is the practice of using past financial records to make short-term and long-term predictions. This will then help businesses make goals and set sales on dates that are likely to have a high turnout.

Sales forecasting can also provide the business with additional benefits. Examining past records can give the store owner an indication on the health of the business. In addition, forecasting data can give tips on how to run efficient operations and conduct cost-effective promotions. By using the information provided by sales forecasting, businesses can determine their ideal sale schedule. 

2.    Customer Buying Behavior

Store owners should schedule their sales based on when customers are most likely to purchase. Examine your target audience’s purchasing behavior and when they have shopped during the holiday season. Did your store increase in customers during a particular date? Which products sold the most in a particular time period? By answering these questions, store owners can determine ideal dates for sales.

Another way to determine when customers frequent a store is to identify the type of shopper. Some customers tend to be early purchasers (the older crowd), completing their holiday shopping early in the month. Other consumers may be procrastinators (the younger crowd), waiting until the last possible moment to shop for friends and family. In addition, certain individuals may only decide to shop when there is a particularly attractive sale. Understanding what type of customers frequent the store can set the ideal schedule for the upcoming holidays. Think of it like a background check—you want to know everything you can about someone before making your decision.

3.    Predictions:

Depending on the type of industry, your business may want to focus on a particular product for sale. Certain toys, games and other products may be popular, and businesses can benefit by factoring such items into their schedules. One example of an exceedingly popular toy is the Tickle-Me Elmo, a fad that emerged during the late 90s. During “Elmo-mania”, many parents and other customers would scour stores; rapidly purchasing from stores with Elmos on hand. Keep abreast of products and items that are in particular demand and schedule sales accordingly in order to meet the needs of the customers.

A timely sale can have a dramatic effect on a business’s holiday profits. Therefore, an optimized sales schedule can determine whether the business experiences a successful holiday quarter. By understanding when customers are likely to visit and purchase products, the business can increase their sales and end their year with a strong finish.

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