Busy summer months: 5 tips to cope with the retail rush

Summer has finally arrived! Sarah Musgrove of Opus Energy shares her top five tips to deal with the retail rush.

It’s that time of year again: we’re finally being treated to a little summer sunshine and many of us are getting ready to take some much-deserved time off.

As holiday-goers stock up on flip-flops, beach balls and the latest guilty pleasure pool reads – and the influx of tourists to our own shores also increases in droves – this can be one of those moments that hits retail and service workers head-on.

Rather than panic about the retail rush, the question becomes, ‘How do you make sure you capitalise on this?’ There’s no need to look at the calendar with a lump in your throat. Preparation makes perfect – and with some forward planning, you can not only cope, but thrive.

Just use these tips to conquer the summer retail rush.

Double, triple and quadruple check your stock

You never want to over-order and be stuck with a backroom full of products or produce you can’t shift. On the other hand, being short of something your customers are clamouring for is enough to make you grit your teeth.

Try to be analytical about what you’ll need. If you’ve been selling for a few years, look at previous years’ records and measure the kind of uplift in sales and footfall you saw in the summer period.

You might notice a pattern – do you get a steady 10 per cent increase in the lead-up to summer, or do you see a large spike in the middle? Spotting patterns like these can help better predict where your focuses will need to lie.

Look to see where you can easily increase conversions

Seasonal periods, when consumers are trained to want to spend more, are the perfect time to convince them to add something extra to their baskets. Use small add-ons which aren’t off-putting and will appeal to a larger majority of holiday-goers looking to tick off their pre-holiday checklists. Think sun cream or flip-flops near a point of sale, or swimwear displays strategically near the clothing section.

Get staffed up

As a small business owner, you might be willing to work around the clock to see that the shop floor is stocked, your online orders are filled and any other outstanding jobs get completed, come rain or shine.

However, your staff may not feel the same. Even if they’re willing to pitch in and get their hands dirty, you need to think about who you’ll need around you to help get the job done.

Will you need to increase working hours? Will you have a rota that needs tweaking to suit customers’ availability? Perhaps you’ll need to hire a temporary worker, or several, to see you through a busy spell – in which case you’ll want to start advertising and interviewing in advance so you have a better chance of finding a suitable hire.

Find where your weak link is

If there are any cracks in the veneer, you’ll notice them grow bigger when put under the strain of a bustling seasonal patch.

What’s holding you or your customers back? Perhaps your point of sale technology is in need of an update and takes a while to process sales (in other words, it’s causing queues on the shop floor). Perhaps your staff aren’t trained to attend to customers quickly enough, so they end up waiting. Maybe your online shop is hot on its stock but delivery times are disappointing – all pain points that can reduce profits and increase customer and employee dissatisfaction.

Find and fix the weak link now to reduce the chances of snapping when put under pressure.

Take care of yourself

Chances are you’ll be so busy thinking about your business and getting caught up in the season, you might forget about yourself.

It could be any little thing that makes a huge difference to your mindset: if you’re on your feet all day, get comfy, hard-wearing shoes that won’t give out before you do.

Mark out a day off in advance (and let your staff know) so you have time to enjoy the summer, particularly if you want to spend time with family and friends. Perhaps you need to set holiday-specific working hours if you think you’ll be working overtime, or plan to reduce your hours in the post-seasonal lull to compensate.

Remember, if you’re tired you’re more likely to make mistakes and increase your stress levels, which can, in turn, lead to poor health.

Sarah Musgrove is editor in chief at Opus Energy 

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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