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Retail Businesses: Sale Season Stress & Solutions

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

The idea of a “sale season” is a relatively outdated concept now. Sales are permanent; the only thing that really changes is the seasonal offers available. When you’re running a small retail business, you are probably accustomed to the idea that every so often you can slash your prices and ensure you get some return on investment from previous unsold stock – but for the moment, let’s focus on the big sale seasons.

The Big Four Sale Periods

While there are others, the main four sale periods can be defined as:

  • Post-Christmas; what we in the UK tend to refer to as “Boxing Day sales”. A high street staple for years, some retailers even kick these off on Christmas Eve.
  • Black Friday. Once a reserve of the USA, Black Friday is now a bona fide event in the UK thanks to American companies carrying over their post-Thanksgiving sales to customers around the globe.
  • Summer sales, which usually begin in earnest around August as stores begin to transition to autumn/winter clothing.
  • Easter sales. Particularly for home and DIY retailers, running sales for Easter and its surrounding bank holidays is a retail staple.

What Retailers Expect

So what should retailers like you expect from these sales? Well, the chance to clear store stock is always appreciated. You’re also likely to see a higher footfall, which can result in larger volumes of items that aren’t on sale. It’s pretty much a win/win.

What Customers Expect

Lower prices, obviously! Same service. Customers are likely to be irked if you offer minute sale prices; 5% isn’t going to cut it for the major seasons. Offer a few headline standout amazing deals to attract attention, then significant reductions on anything else you’re looking to clear.

How Do You Stand Out?

The big question; if everyone is having a sale, how can you ensure that you stand out and capture that lucrative sales traffic? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Be loud and bold; make it clear to anyone passing at a glance that you’re running a sale using banners, signage, and promoting on social media.
  • Change your offers every couple of days. Reserve some stock back for a second burst of sales enthusiasm, to keep customers coming back even when they have purchased. Switch up your signage to display the new sales, using magnets for hanging signs and replacing window posters and flyers.
  • Offer limited sales; i.e. the first ten people to buy in a particular hour get a free gift. People like reduced prices, but they like free even better!

Other Essentials

If you’ve got your offers right and the customers are flooding in, then you have to ensure you have staff on hand who can meet the demand. Leaving customers waiting in a queue is never a good look, but it’s even worse during sale season. If you’re anticipating a heavy upswing in customers, then it’s worth bringing in temporary staff to make sure you can keep up. This is a golden opportunity to not only impress existing customers but attract new ones, so don’t miss out!

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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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