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No Festive Fiascos: Being Prepared for the Holidays

Published November 21, 2023 - NZ Operations Manager

From November, small businesses experience the busiest period in terms of consumer traffic, dining, and shopping. But with the cost-of-living crisis looming large, what does it mean? And how can businesses prepare for the holidays?

Holiday Trends

A trend we see emerging in retail and holiday spending is Black Friday. The American phenomenon is becoming mainstream in New Zealand with more consumers looking to purchase during this period rather than Boxing Day. There is also an emergence of ‘Black Week’ with businesses offering discounts and benefits from Black Friday to Cyber Monday.

A recent report has revealed that despite the cost-of-living crisis, New Zealanders planned to spend 10% more on Black Friday than last year. Consumers are facing inflation pressures of their own with cost-of-living rising rapidly which will lead to them cutting down on discretionary spending and opting for practical gifts. There is a sense of consumers coming full circle with a shift towards conscious spending and purchasing decisions becoming less impulsive. Consumers are looking to spend money on locally made, thoughtful gifts and giving back to their community.

Small businesses are also struggling with rising costs and some aren’t even sure if they’re going to make it through the next year.

The holiday season can be challenging and complicated with managing peak season rush or a lull in your business, depending on your industry. You must also manage employee leave and understand public holiday entitlements. As a business owner, you need to start preparing for the holidays.

Schedule holidays

Ideally you should determine your annual holiday shutdown period or operating hours in June-July. This gives you enough time to plan and schedule holidays, so you have adequate staff available. Before you schedule holidays or operating hours, there are few questions to consider:

  • Will your business be open on all days (25th December 26th December, etc)
  • Do you plan to be open for longer than usual?
  • Are you planning to close your business during the holidays?
  • Will you operate on reduced hours or capacity?
  • Do you need additional staff or casuals?

Ensure your staff is across holiday operations and hours and explain your expectations of them during the holiday season. You also need to be aware of public holidays and your obligations as a business owner.

Strategize customer engagement

For many businesses such as retail and hospitality, the holiday season is one of robust sales, peak traffic, and busy staff schedules. But small businesses are now competing in a highly fragmented market for both consumers and employees. How can you optimize sales? A tip is to strategize customer engagement using all the tools available to you.

  • Offer sales and discounts
  • Consider offering clients and loyal customers perks
  • You can host a giveaway or promotion
  • Offer seasonal discounts or gifts with each purchase
  • Donate a portion of each purchase to sales and encourage customers to donate
  • A networking event that customers, clients, and target audiences can attend

Annual Leave Entitlements

When it comes to annual holidays, do know your obligations as an employer?

Holiday marketing campaigns

Review your seasonal marketing campaigns. Do they need to be changed/updated? What channels have been most effective?

  • Social media
  • Marketing emails
  • Direct marketing
  • Websites
  • TV
  • Digital

Support your employees

Certain industries such as retail, hair and beauty, hospitality, and travel will have a busy season till January. Employees may work double shifts or longer hours and spend more time on their feet. They may also not get the time off to spend with their families during the holidays. The holidays also can feel overwhelming for people spending time away from their families or unable to be there for important moments. This creates additional stress.

Employees maybe juggling additional workloads and having to plan dinners or personal events with families, making them lose track of their well-being.

It is essential that you support your employees in any way you can. Create realistic schedules for employees. Give them additional breaks or screen-free time. You can organise team activities or events, so they feel refreshed.

Be safe

Christmas is a time of making merry and having workplace parties and events. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure all employees are safe at the workplace. All decorations should be put up in a safe and practical manner. Your workplace events or parties should also follow work health and safety protocols.

This is a good time to assess your work health and safety policies and consider updating them if necessary. You should also share this policy with employees before the festive period to ensure they are following health and safety procedures.

Spread the cheer

Does your business support any charity? The holiday season is a time of giving and supporting the community. It can also motivate customers and clients to do business with you. You can donate a portion of sales or do a toy drive or ask employees to contribute and then you match the donation.

Be prepared

If you have some downtime over the holidays, use it wisely. It is the year-end and before you know it, a new year is here with new challenges.

Businesses that have a slow period over the holidays (construction, fitness etc) can review their plans and strategies.

  • Were there any products/services that missed the mark? Can they be improved or stopped?
  • Were there any products/services that were extremely popular and beneficial?
  • Did you lose any clients unexpectedly? How can you improve consumer engagement?
  • How efficiently could you manage staff? Do you need help in understanding staff entitlements?

Employsure has worked with 7,000 businesses across New Zealand supporting them in employment relations and workplace health and safety. Call our Advice Line today to get all your questions answered.

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