Like trying on thick, wooly sweaters in July, shopping for floods and bollards when there’s a foot of snow on the ground seems all sorts of wrong. Yet, for many lighting showrooms, seasonal categories like outdoor lighting make up a big part of their business. So what’s the best way to move merchandise when enjoying the great outdoors is the last thing on your customers’ minds?
Like trying on thick, wooly sweaters in July, shopping for floods and bollards when there’s a foot of snow on the ground seems all sorts of wrong. Yet, for many lighting showrooms, seasonal categories like outdoor lighting make up a big part of their business. So what’s the best way to move merchandise when enjoying the great outdoors is the last thing on your customers’ minds? As three savvy retailers see it, knowing the cyclical nature of your business and turning to creative solutions is the key to not only surviving, but thriving in the off season. Here’s a look at how their sales calendars shake out through the seasons:
Bruce Paul, President
January/February: Business starts to pick back up across all categories after the holiday slump. We don’t sell a lot of ceiling fans during the winter season, but we planned for that slight dip in business when we purchased our inventory. We’ll rarely do sales on specific categories. Our customers aren’t going to buy ceiling fans just because they’re on sale.
March/April/May: We design and sell landscape lighting, so we start to get really busy with that part of the business in the spring, and it usually lasts up through the fall.
June/July/August: Business is steady, but many of our customers are busy with summer activities and vacations, so they’re not as focused on buying lighting. Ceilings fans are another story: We’ll move 50 percent of our ceiling fans in the summer months.
September/October/November/December: In Texas, we have a lot less weather variation, but still have a fall season, and that’s when our customers start to fix up their homes for the holidays. It’ll begin to slow down again after Thanksgiving. To boost profits, we do holiday lighting installations from late October to early December, and we sell LED string lights, wreaths and custom products for the holidays. Whatever we don’t sell, we box it up for the next year.
Pat Graff, President
January/February: People aren’t doing a whole lot around the house, and the average homeowner is focusing on paying off the bills that build up around the holidays, so we tend to focus on contractors. Instead of markdowns, we make sure we stock accent furniture and accessories as a way to boost our retail business. We also ramp up our advertising efforts.
March/April/May: Outdoor lighting flies off the shelves.
June/July/August: Ceiling fans are a hot item. We do two sales — and two sales only — every year: One is a tent sale around Labor Day. We discount older and scratch-and-dent products, and we bring in new products we bought at a big discount from manufacturer closeouts.
September/October/November/December: In the fall, we see an increase of customers coming in with home improvement projects to prepare for the holidays. Around daylight savings time, I have noticed more table and floor lamps moving. After Halloween and Christmas, markdowns help those lingering products move, or we’ll hold onto those products until next year. The second of our two sales is during the last two weeks of October. It helps us clear out older merchandise to make room for products from the January Dallas market. It’s also good for our customers’ holiday fix-up projects.
David Director, President
January/February/March: In January, we’ll run a sale on holiday product, and we’ll pack up whatever is left for next year. In the middle of the winter in the Northeast it gets pretty cold, so our outdoor lighting definitely slows down, but it never completely dies away. During those slow times, we’ll promote slow-moving products, using price as an incentive.
April/May/June/July/August: If April and May are warmer than normal, the fan season has begun, and it may extend itself if it stays warmer into the fall. Outdoor lighting sales begin to really pick up, too.
September/October/ November/December: Table and floor lamps are going to sell better for third and fourth quarters because people are getting their homes ready for the holidays. Accessories and holiday merchandise are also big during this time of the year.