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Only 25 Fridays until Christmas (Yes really)

If you are a retailer and you haven’t started your Christmas planning you are running seriously close to missing the opportunity of the year. Seriously.

For many retail categories Christmas is the single biggest trading opportunity, with some businesses making 40% of annual profit over the Christmas/New Year trading period.

It never fails to surprises me that many a business might get their Christmas Merchandise strategies together then forget about how the heck they are going to get ALL THAT PRODUCT into stores. Then there’s the retailers who forget the basics of what products people actually need over the festive period, or those or forget that trading success has little to do with them and everything to do with the store network being equipped to make it happen.

If you want the detailed recipe for Christmas success this year you’ll need to put your hand in your pocket. We are not in the season of giving just yet, but in the spirit of Christmas I have compiled a guide to help with your in-store planning and implementation. This, in my experience, is the single biggest failure point for most retailers at Christmas.

Five key Christmas strategies for in-store implementation


The best way to execute major in-store presentation initiatives is to plan on paper first(saves a lot of physical moving around) before implementation. Christmas is no different.

This method helps you:

• Understand if you have sufficient stock

• Organize additional fixturing prior to stock arriving

• Plan for store set up and provide the store team with a guideline to follow


  1. Draw up a store layout plan

  2. Plot your key Christmas display hotspots, out-posts throughout the store and in-category presentations – to fit the incoming Christmas range and identify relevant gift lines you already have in-store

  3. Share with the store team so you are all on the same page, making set-up easier


Your goal is to make Christmas gift giving easy.

Offer enhanced merchandise presentations, services and offers like:

• Segmented gift giving ideas – gifts under price points $20, $30 etc., gifts for her, him, kids, etc.

• Gift wrapping – can be a beautifully hand wrapped gift or, if resources are limited, ‘pre-wrapped’ gifts or simple boxes and bags

• Christmas packaged Gift vouchers and Cards

• Buy 2 gifts and get %20 off your third

What do you need to do operationally in order to pull the above off let alone from a merchandise and buying perspective?


Ensure your store presentation and layout standards do not slip because due to the influx of additional Christmas stock, you are under pressure.

No-one likes to shop in a store that is difficult to navigate, hard to move around in.

Work hard to keep your store standards in place because:

• It’s easier to shop and see product in a clear environment

• Your stock loss from breakage and customer theft will be minimised

• Your customer and brand experience is maximised

As a minimum ensure you:

• Keep your aisles clear and to minimum width of 1m in all areas (you should still be able to get a pram around the store)

• Present product in logical adjacencies – ensure Christmas outposts have relevance to the product categories around them

• Clearly price all Christmas product and support it with themed Christmas POS

Where possible set up a trial store and photograph the standards for others to see “what good looks like”


Farmers – Christmas 2014

Normal infill and replenishment processes will not be enough to keep up with Christmas trading patterns. And you don’t want to miss sales opportunities by being out of stock.

Plan early to organize refill teams or extended refill times.

There’s some options for this:

• Pre and post trading hours refill

• Employ merchandisers for peak trading periods i.e. non sales team members in merchandiser tops who ensure the stock is well merchandised and constantly replenished

• Ensure you have volume or bulk presentations of key selling lines and that they do not sell out until you next get to refill


Review your Christmas presentation and set up daily. As Christmas trade picks up you should review morning and night. And in the week before Christmas, perhaps 3 times a day. No exceptions. And no one person can work 24/7, so ensure every duty manager has clear review guidelines to follow.

Store review checklist:

• Manage your stock replenishment effectively; this is critical

• Understand your best sellers and have the option to reposition to drive sales or simply get more stock

• Review poor sellers and take action by moving location, adjusting pricing, or refining displays to present with other product

Too much? Starting to feel a touch of Grinch? Time to figure out your elf name.

Happy Planning and signing off

Pudding Pointy-Ears

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