Getting ready for the seasonal change

Retailers! Don’t get caught out by the common mistakes made as the seasons change. As the year progresses as do the buying habits of your customers. It is that age old balance between enough stock to meet demand and not leaving yourself with items you, at best have to leave a year before you can approach selling again.

It may seem like common sense and on paper it is, but I still see many stores that don’t get their seasonal change right and as a result are reducing their sales opportunities and potentially crippling their margin. Planning ahead is your key to success here. It is impossible to know exactly what your customers want to buy from you but you can give yourself a fighting chance by addressing the seasonal items you carry.

In many small independent pet stores, space is a premium. Make sure everything has a place, a price and is relevant to the time of year. Don’t forget your seasonal add on sales near the till point or on clip strips. They will boost your turnover throughout the year and even small price items can add up to a tidy sum over 12 months.

Chances are you don’t want to be stuck with last season’s stock if you are not on a sale or return. Below are some of the main categories to check as we move from autumn to winter.

Human fashion or practical clothing wear – You may well be able to move items such as t shirts and light coats out to the stock room for safe keeping until next year. All you need to worry about here is keeping them clean and dry and rodent protected. If you have room then this could be the most cost-effective option. For fashion items then you pretty much have to have the items cleared before the new season lands. This is something to discount and get out of your store unless the items will sell under the practical clothing banner next year. Dog fashion, in most cases will store until the season comes around again.

Food – In the pet industry you are unlikely to see a change in buying habits for general day to day food but you will see a step up in treats, edible presents, boredom busters, pet bedding and forage. I will add that wild bird seed and fat balls are a huge seller when the temperature drops. If you have not considered this as part of your add on sales to increase your basket spend then you are missing out.

Once you have a plan it is just a case of making sure the rest of your team knows it, phasing old out, launching the new and onto a cracking winters sales.  Don’t forget, before your new cold weather order lands, do a stock rotate and clean.

Just to summarise. Review your current seasonal stock levels before the season actually changes. Give yourself plenty of time to multibuy or discount or promote items that you will not want to store over winter. Make sure you keep your whole team informed too so they know the priority items and can help to sell them before demand is reduced.

There is always the discount option to get stock moved if you can’t store it. A solid plan ahead and understanding of buying patterns should help minimise and losses or margin drops. Don’t forget to update your website as well as your actual shop when the season changes. Happy selling!

Nicola has spent the last 13 years working in the pet retail industry and is the founder of Ravensford Consultancy Ltd, a company dedicated to helping business in the pet trade.

Please feel free to contact her at Ravensford Consultancy for help and inspiration around boosting sales for your pet related business.

nicola@ravensfordconsultancy.com or 07770 546275

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