How retailers can use the inevitable summer slump to prepare for the festive season

Megan Lipscombe

Megan Lipscombe

Head of Marketing

With the summer season upon us and school holidays just around the corner, UK retailers are looking at a quieter few weeks ahead. As many of us head off on holiday, the summer season is traditionally a little slower for retailers; but this shouldn’t necessarily be a cause for concern.

It’s time we started seeing this quiet period as an opportunity to prepare for the looming festive season. Summer may be a little slow but with 25% of Brits saying that they start thinking about Christmas shopping before the end of August, the hordes of shoppers may be heading your way sooner than you think. 

So how can you utilise the inevitable summer slump to prepare for the festive period?

Hire your seasonal staff

Greater footfall means more staff. If you want to continue to deliver exceptional customer service at the busiest time in the retail calendar then you’re going to need more people.

Start hiring early to ensure you have the best people for the job and the time to train them to deliver the customer experience your shoppers expect.

Identify when you’re going to be busiest & schedule for this

You’re unlikely to be busy from the second you open until the moment you close for 4 months straight. Look at past trends and predicted sales to identify peaks and troughs in footfall so that you can schedule appropriately.

This may sound like a lot of data analysis but finding the right tool to help you with demand forecasting means you’ll always have the right number of staff to meet demand and are neither scrimping on customer service or wasting money.

Prepare for changes in wage costs

Make sure you’re aware of how the festive period can affect your outgoings and prepare for these changes. Be it altering your overtime policy, accounting for seasonal staff wages and contracts or implementing bonus schemes; you need to ensure you’re prepared.

Failing to do so can result in mistakes when it comes to paying wages and it’s fair to say that’s not something that’s going to impress your staff at this busy time of year. Keep your staff happy and avoid wasted time on admin tasks by ensuring perfect payroll.

Don’t forget Black Friday deals & January sales

The festive season doesn’t start and end with Christmas shopping, make sure you don’t forget about Black Friday, Cyber Monday or the January sales. Analyse what has worked for you in the past and delve into what has and hasn’t been successful for your competitors. You can then use this insight to set prices and run promotional campaigns that help you drive more sales from your target audience.

Make the most of your marketing channels

There is little point extending your opening hours or running promotions if nobody knows about it. Identify who you want to reach and how best to reach them; be it social media, digital advertising, email or television adverts, make sure you have all bases covered.

With many people starting their Christmas shopping at the end of summer you need to start early too; make sure your audience is aware of the benefits of shopping with you rather than your competitors this festive season.

Incentivise your staff to deliver exceptional service

Your people are your main asset yet only 54% of retail staff say they are happy at work. Unhappy employees won’t be motivated to deliver the exceptional customer experience that your customers expect. Make sure you have protocols in place to ensure this isn’t the case.

Implement a feedback system with a reward for positive feedback and bonus schemes for those who hit certain targets. Organise team events and have workplace perks in place. However you do it, make sure your staff know how much you value them the great work they are doing.

With so much to do the festive season can seem a little daunting and prioritising tasks can be a headache. Concentrate on the things that matter most and make sure you have systems in place to take care of the rest.

Rotaready has been developed to suit you and your employees, be it rota scheduling, time & attendance management, cost control or absence requests, we’ve got you covered. If you would like to learn more about how we can help lighten your workload this festive season then email us at or send us a message via live chat.

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