As people around our country prepare for what is sure to be the oddest Thanksgiving on record, small business retailers are going over their game plans for the holidays to make sure they haven’t missed anything.
Let’s set the scene for what is coming up this weekend and in the next month for small business owners. There are:
- Two days before Black Friday and what is historically the kickoff to the holiday shopping season
- 37 Days Left in the Year
- 28 days between Black Friday and Christmas
- 4 shopping weekends before Christmas.
How are small businesses feeling today? Most are VERY anxious. Nearly 70% of small business owners say the final two months are the biggest opportunities for their business.
Their bigger competitors got a jump on holiday season by starting it in mid-October with Amazon Prime days (normally held in July but pushed back this year). Amazon followed up Prime Days with something called “Holiday Dash” which includes over one million items on sale. Other stores such as Lowes, Target, and Home Depot quickly jumped in with their own October programs.
The name of the game this year is online and early! In fact, some of the most popular items will ONLY be available online to drive consumers to a store’s website.
The current economic climate and recent government decisions are working against small businesses. Business owners and workers didn’t get a much-needed stimulus package before the election, and it doesn’t look like anything will happen until at least beginning of February. Last week, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced a government wind-down on the five emergency loan programs to businesses (approximately $455 billion) even though the Federal Reserve and other agencies said the economy needs to have access to the funds.
According to a Goldman Sachs Study, 88% of small businesses have used up all their PPP funding. In a separate study from CoStar Group, retailers are $52 billion behind on rent payments since April, and 14% of retailers did not make their payment this month.
What about consumer demand? Retail sales rose only 0.3% in October which is the smallest gain since the pandemic started. Credit card spending last month fell 7.4% compared to the same time frame in 2019. Consumers are stressed about their basic expenses – rent, auto and credit card payments.
In addition, approximately 20 million Americans currently receive some form of unemployment. Twelve million of them will lose their unemployment benefits from the CARES Act at the end of December. Without these benefits programs being extended, only 18 states will offer additional benefits to long-term unemployed.
What can retail business owners do to make the most of the upcoming holidays? Here are four tips that every business owner should incorporate into their businesses TODAY!
- Be Your Own Customer -Visit your website from a computer, iPad, different mobile devices. How does your site look? Click on every single link. Do they all work? Test your e-commerce platform. Buy something. Are you getting the same experience you think your customers are getting from you?
- Have a 37-Day Strategic Goal – And create a DAILY GPS plan on how you expect to achieve your goal. You will have to modify it almost daily.
- Keep Your Sales Pipeline Full – Through email marketing, texting, and social media, stay connected to your customer base so that they know about sales, new shipments coming in, contactless pickup/delivery, etc. The more you stay connected to them, the better your chances are for success.
- Play the “What If” Game and come up with answers to every question you ask.
- Employees – What if one of your employees gets COVID?
- What if your business gets locked down?
- What if the weather turns bad (Rain, Snow, Polar Vortex)?
- What if there are shipping delays?
- What if you have inventory issues?
- What if you have website issues?
Ask these questions TODAY – and come up with answers so that if something does happen, you are ready with a backup plan.
If small business retailers want to survive the holidays and live to see 2021, they must have the discipline to face, and overcome, the obstacles that stand in their way. I wish them all the best!