Beat the post-January slump - top tips for retailers

January will soon be over, marking the end of the festive retail season.

For many retailers, the January sales are amongst the busiest periods of the year. Today, with renewed economic uncertainty brewing, businesses across the country are wondering how to cope with the post-January slump.

Retailers are likely to face a particularly tough year. Here are some tips to help you get over the February blues.

1. Consider an extension

There is no hard and fast rule that says the January sales must finish at the end of January. If you think your business would benefit from it, consider extending the sales further. Many retailers chose to do this towards the end of last year, by beginning their January sales around the middle of December. If you want to boost volume and keep footfall high, extending your sales might well be a good option.

2. Keep up the promotions

Even if you don’t choose to keep your January sales going, think about other promotions that might appeal to potential customers. For example, you might consider launching a loyalty scheme in order to try to maintain or expand your market share. Alternatively you might offer multi-buy discounts on products for which you are over-stocked. Read some more ideas for retail promotions.

3. Don't cut back on marketing

There is a tendency amongst small business owners to cut back on marketing activities during difficult times. In fact, the post-January slump is one of the periods in which you should consider shouting the loudest about your company. With consumer spending down, business owners need to fight even harder for every pound spent. This means thinking about innovative new ways to market your business – not burying your head in the sand.

4. Find new products

The bedrock of any great retail business is, of course, great products. After the madness of the January sales, think about taking some time to investigate new and exciting products that might be right for your customers. You should also consider trying to renegotiate your deals with suppliers. Shop around to make sure that you are getting the best possible price – not just on stock but also on utilities and other overheads. With uncertain economic times ahead, it is important that you keep excess costs down.

5. Branch out

It might seem counterintuitive, but periods of downturn often provide the best opportunities for expansion. Consider whether or not this might be the right time for you to grow your business. For example, are you in a position to move into bigger premises, or open a new location? Alternatively, could you benefit from experimenting in entirely new areas that complement your core business? For example, many coffee shops have begun selling their own beans or other coffee-related materials. Think about new ideas that you could explore – but make sure that you don’t lose sight of your core business.

6. Take stock

Finally, once the January rush is over, set aside some time to take stock of your business and consider whether you are on the right track. Identify some key metrics to help you get a handle on the health of your venture, and set out some goals and priorities for the year ahead. While this might not be an immediately profit-generating activity, forward planning of this sort is key to the long-term stability of any firm.

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