The 2011 holiday outlook for specialty stores

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With Black Friday just fifty-nine days away, it’s time to take a look at this year’s holiday predictions. Here are some recent headlines about the upcoming holiday.

Joyless Holiday Retail Forecast Wall Street Journal – Sep 21, 2011

Moderately healthy holiday sales forecast Pittsburgh Post Gazette – Sep 22, 2011

Holiday season may be a bah-humbug for retailers The Associated Press – Sep 21, 2011

Retailers Expect More Sales, Fewer Shoppers During Holidays KBOI – Sep 22, 2011

Forecasts point to modest holiday growth BusinessWeek – Sep 22, 2011

Holiday Apparel Sales Will Increase Despite Lower Foot Traffic Sporting Goods Intelligence – Sep 23, 2011

That cleared things up, right? What’s funny is that these headlines are all based upon two different holiday predictions that have fairly similar outlooks.

And there’s the key word: Outlook. I believe your holiday success will be determined more by your outlook than any national predictions. With a zero national market share, you have the ability to influence your results more than the outside influences driving the national predictions.

Here are three reasons I believe some specialty retailers will have a terrific holiday:

1. Deal fatigue and the experiential purchases. Although deal-of-the-day sites like Groupon and online shopping sites including Amazon have saved consumers a lot of money, they’ve also added a new level of stress to shopping. Of course shoppers want a deal, but they also want to enjoy shopping.

Most consumers will be looking for deals this holiday, but these same consumers also set aside part of their budget to shop with stores that deliver a stress- and deal-free memorable holiday experience. I ‘ll write more on this topic as we get closer to the holiday season, but as every year I’ll be challenging you to create a unique and memorable in-store experience that differentiates you from the competition. This customer is going to appreciate it even more this year.

2. Focus on events. Almost every holiday report is predicting a decrease in store traffic. I’d say that’s a pretty safe prediction, since that’s already happening in most stores. Specialty retailers that can successfully use events to create incremental visits from their customer base won’t be as affected by this trend. Even more important, these events are exactly the type of feel good holiday experiences at which consumers will make incremental purchases.

3. The staff’s ability to deliver a great experience and create a sale. Ultimately, the stores with the right product and the best staff will be successful. WOWing customers while at the same time focusing on conversion and average sale will be essential to success. Frankly, most stores can’t or won’t do this. Now is the time to work with your staff so they’re ready to maximize every customer opportunity this holiday season.

One of my favorite sayings is, “Optimists are right. So are pessimists. It’s your choice.” Forget the national predictions…let’s make our own.

Here’s my headline prediction:

Select specialty stores to have a very successful holiday Retail Contrarian – Sep 27, 2011

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.

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