For a bit more than 18 percent of U.S. consumers, holiday shopping begins this month. That’s according to the National Retail Federation. We’re talking about the big, end-of-the-year holidays here—the ones that take us right through New Year’s Day (although, if you stretch that by a couple of weeks you can add the Super Bowl to “holiday shopping” and the $5.3 billion in sales it generates!).
This year, the Federation expects holiday sales to top out at $457.4
billion. That’s about a five percent increase over 2005, which
turns out to be the smallest year-to-year increase this century.
Even so, year in and year out, holiday shopping represents a huge
chunk of a retailer’s annual sales volume. In 2005, holiday
sales represented 19.9 percent of total retail industry sales. Furniture
and home furnishings stores (the sector that would include window
coverings and interior decorating) generated $22.09 million in sales
during November and December 2005, or 19.8 percent of their annual
retail sales. For many retailers in all sectors, holiday sales can
make or break the year.
Let’s not look twice at such a nice gift. Having those consumers
out shopping and looking to spend money all at the same time is
good thing. But it’s a scary thing, too, that retailers stake
the success of their businesses on holiday shopping. What if the
last two months of the year don’t live up to hopes or expectations?
OK, this industry is a bit different. By October, all the custom
window treatment orders needed by the end of the year have been
taken already and no new orders are being promised until after the
holidays. These aren’t off-the-shelf items we’re talking
about. They require time to design, fabricate and install. So dealers,
designers and workrooms already know if 2006 is an up, down or even
So what happens if 2006 looks to be a down year—or, at best,
even? You can hope that the 37 percent of consumers who don’t
start holiday shopping until November find you and that you can
rush their orders through. Or you can start now on a New Years resolution
to boost sales in the first nine to 10 months of the year. Invest
in advertising, stay in contact with customers, take advantage of
supplier discounts and promotions, network, attend seminars to learn
new ideas, better techniques and helpful sales programs, be creative
in marketing your services. The holidays can be stressful enough,
there’s no need to add make or break pressure on your livelihood!