Q: As a small business, what can I do to beat the January blues?

A: For a small business, the frantic rush of Christmas is now over for another year and it’s time to prepare for the lull of the January Blues before the next high value holiday – Valentine’s Day.

Consumers are always a bit down after New Year’s Eve…it’s the end of holiday excesses and possibly time to face their finances and the overdraft they might have racked up to pay for Christmas. With pockets empty and budgets tight, one in three shoppers are now planning to spend less in the January sales because they splurged so much on Black Friday.

However, all the doom and gloom can be a bit too much for everyone to face head on, so you’ll find that some people will still be on the lookout for those January sale bargains and a cheap treat for themselves to keep their spirits up! For a small business owner, it’s time to focus on clearing out all the old stock by offering irresistible discounts to make way for all the new items you will be bringing in at the end of the month. This might be a great time to do a ‘2 for 1’ promotion to encourage over buying and to really help clear the shelves and get people through the doors.

When business is slow in January, it can be a great time to focus your attention on your customer database and connect with them. Sending a ‘Happy New Year’ email is a simple, yet effective way of reconnecting and letting them know that they can still bag a bargain or find a special offer if they venture out to their local high street, or go online.

Q: How can I make my least busy times become busy?!

A great way to make sure you capture the passing morning trade might be to run your January sale from 8am – 12 noon only, this will drive commitment from buyers early on in the day. To really encourage this fashion of early buying, ensure the sale mornings are only at the start of the week, say Monday to Wednesday and you will be taking the pressure off your weekend sales targets by getting the sales nice and early in the week.

Keep your customers aware of how many of each sale item you have left to create that sense of urgency up throughout your sale period – no one likes to miss out on a bargain! When the customer knows that the item they have their eye on is one of the final few in stock, it can be just the thing to tip them over the edge, boost their buying power, and make the purchase.

This period can also be a great time to capture details of new customers which is really easy to do when a transaction is taking place. All you need to do is take a note of the customer’s email address so that you can stay in touch with them in the future about the latest news and offers.

As the end of January rolls around you’ll be able to focus your time firmly on charging full price on Valentine’s Day treats and gifts as the grip on the purse strings starts to loosen again. When people start to buy a gift with just one person in mind, it’s very different from the Christmas shopping frenzy- they generally spend more time looking and considering what to buy and are willing to spend more to make the gift extra special.

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