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Small Business Center

How to Handle Shoppers’ Early Start on Holiday Shopping

September 14, 2022

Shoppers are starting their holiday season shopping before the official end of summer, and retailers must prepare for the challenge this early buying surge poses. A combination of inflation worries, supply chain issues and general anxiety about the state of the economy are spurring the buying boom. Inflation topped consumers’ worries, as 37% of respondents to a Salesforce survey started buying holiday gifts earlier. Large retailers are responding. There are reports of a second Prime Day, to be called “Prime Fall,” for Amazon, and Walmart will release its top toys list a month earlier than usual.

Small businesses also can respond to changing market conditions, said Columbia Business School director of retail studies Mark Cohen. Here are some of his tips for thriving in the early-sales frenzy:

  • Make projected popular gift items available now but go easy on holiday paraphernalia. Nobody wants to look at Christmas trees and candy canes in September store displays.
  • Try to sell current inventory early, as inflation will make restocking more expensive. 
  • Wait a while before going into sales and promotional pricing mode.
  • Consider extending your return policies for goods purchased now to reach through the seasonal holiday period.

Cohen said small businesses should continue to play to their traditional strengths, as well: offering strong customer service, keeping inventory levels up and understanding customers' wants, down to the individual level.

Read more about strategies to handle early holiday shopping at Inc.

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