Are You Prepared for the Strongest December for Retail in 10 Years? ‘Twas the weekend before Christmas, And all through the stores, The cash tills were ringing, Like never before’ Ok, I’m no poet. The festive season has gone to my head. But there’s a very real reason why I’m even more excited about this holiday season than normal. Christmas Day falls on a Monday this year. Which means that last-minute shoppers, and you know who you are, have two whole work-free days to hit the stores. When you combine this with another record-breaking Black Friday and very positive holiday retail forecasts worldwide, then you have to be excited about what the weekend before Christmas will bring. ‘Partly thanks to that extra Sunday, the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that holiday retail sales in November and December will increase between 3.6% and 4%this year from 2016.’ And that’s just in the States. Across Europe, the outlook looks even brighter, with the Netherlands reporting the biggest retail revenue increase in 10 years in Q3, and the UK predicting a 5% seasonal increase ‘adding nearly £4 billion to holiday sales and taking the seasonal total to £78.7 billion.’ So what are you doing to prepare? Extending Super Saturday ‘The last Saturday before Christmas, Super Saturday, is by far the biggest shopping day of the holiday season. The term was coined by retailers to mark shoppers’ last-minute scramble (the alternate name on Wikipedia is “Panic Saturday”). Many retailers offer one-day, in-store discounts and incentives, and stores are typically open for extended hours.’ We all know about the extended opening hours for ‘Super Saturday.’ But an increasing number of retailers will also be extending their opening hours and offering in-store deals and incentives on Sunday 24th also this year. Once this is planned, and extra stock is delivered and accounted for, there really is only one thing that we need to focus on. And that is our staff. Are they ready? A Crash Course in Seasonal Shopping Our store associates really are the superstars this holiday season. There’s no denying it. The extra hours, frantic shoppers and huge anticipated footfall will make working the weekend before Christmas very physically demanding. So what can we do to support them? This is where your training process is really key. Supplement your usual L&D programme with a crash course especially equipped for the seasonal season. This will be especially useful for any temp workers that you get in for Christmas. Micro-learning is important here. Make sure all training is delivered in short, bite-sized chunks so that your associates and temps can get up to speed quickly and feel prepared before those doors fly open next weekend. Christmas and Beyond Once Santa has been and gone, we enter sales season as the last few days of the year bolster what is predicted to be the best December in retail for a long time. The processes and insights learnt from Super Saturday and Sunday should set you up for this and beyond into 2018. We hope that it’s a prosperous one for you.