With the Holidays Right Around the Corner, A Holiday Staffing Plan is More Important than Ever

The holidays are right around the corner and retailers have more planning to do this year than in many years in the recent past. This is because the economy continues to improve and back to school shopping spending this past month is a good indicator that this holiday season is going to be a busy one.

Retail Wire recently reported that the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that in August of 2012 retail sales in the U.S. were up 4.7% and July 2012 sales were up 4.4% over the 2011 retail sales numbers. This is a very positive indicator for retailers across North America.

In fact, Retail Wire went on to cite a study by Hay Group where 75% of retailers are estimating an increase in sales this holiday season and have a plan to handle increase in business. 36% plan to hire additional seasonal staff, which is an increase of 10% over 2011.

Ecommerce sites like Amazon make it so easy for customers to do their holiday shopping online so if bricks and mortar stores want to have a bigger slice of the holiday shopping pie, the customer’s in-store experience is more important now than ever.

The key to having sufficient staff over the holiday season is to have a plan and resources in place. Having too little staff will cause you to lose sales and customers. Having too many employees will cause you to have high overhead cutting into your revenue.

The holiday season and holiday planning has always presented challenges to retailers with respect to holiday staffing, in our experience, because retailers must plan based on what they anticipate will happen. Holiday staff will be needed to ensure that:

1. Distribution and merchandising is in order and that products are in stock and on the shelf.
2. There are sufficient cashiers in-store to keep line-ups under control.
3. There are resources to ensure that holiday displays, decor and experiential marketing campaigns go off without a hitch.

This represents a huge cost to retailers not only in the cost of labour but also in the cost to hire and train seasonal staff. A very common mistake we see retailers make is underestimating holiday traffic and then trying to get their holiday staffing in order at the last minute.

Some retailers will turn to temp-employment agencies to fill the gap, however the challenge there is that these employees’ experiences will vary and many end up requiring significant training which many retailers do not have the time or infrastructure to accommodate during the holiday season.

Merchandising companies offer better holiday staffing solutions to retailers because merchandising companies will generally have a workforce of their own highly skilled retail employees. When a retailer is planning for the holiday season, they can work with a merchandising company to create a holiday staffing plan and then receive the staffing resources to implement it. Because employees of merchandising companies offer already skilled retail staff, this greatly minimizes the burden to retailers as the seasonal holiday staff provided by the merchandising company will require less training. Also, holiday staff provided by merchandising companies have more of a sense of ownership in you being successful. Finally, as you move into the holiday season and start to see what your sales will be, a merchandising company can easily increase or decrease the volume of staff as needed.

It is already October, so if you haven’t started your planning for holiday staffing, now is the time – as waiting could impact your sales potential during this crucial time.

For more information about holiday staffing planning or if you need assistance with your planning or staff over the holiday season, please contact Storesupport at 905-847-6513 or visit www.storesupport.ca.

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