Preparing for the Holiday Season in Retail

By: Karen Bassett, Assistant Director, Trade Services

The holidays can be a productive—and hectic—time of year for facilities and operations professionals in the retail industry. It should come as no surprise that the holiday season is a boon for B2C businesses: The National Retail Federation reports that 20 to 40 percent of annual sales for most retailers take place within the last two months of the year. And despite some industry insiders bemoaning the demise of brick-and-mortar, 65 percent of shoppers often browse online and then go into a store to make their purchase.

An increase in sales means an increase in foot traffic, which can lead to an increase in unique challenges that your facilities team will need to manage. Before the holiday shopping season is in full swing, it’s helpful to take a few proactive steps to prepare your stores for the impending hustle and bustle.

Tackle Preventive Maintenance First

Scheduling preventive work orders before your stores become overwhelmed with customers will help you avoid equipment breakdowns that could cause service disruptions at the worst possible times. Beginning in early October, assess each of your store locations and their assets, including HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems to make sure they’re fully functioning.

Depending on where your stores are located, you may also want to invest in products or services to combat the effects of bad weather. Walk-off entrance mats, for example, will minimize the amount of snow, sleet and rock salt being tracked onto the sales floor, and can also prevent dangerous slip-and-fall accidents.

Have Extra Staff on Hand for Emergency Repairs

For many retailers, the holidays require all hands on deck. Additional, merchandise stockers and are often needed to ensure stores remain in good condition prior to, during and after the holidays.

But even with a robust staff and preventive maintenance plan in place, emergencies can strike at any time, especially as an uptick in customers will inevitably lead to increased wear and tear. Black Friday, for instance, is historically the busiest day of the year for plumbers, who are tasked with cleaning up after guests who “overwhelm the system.” A facilities management (FM) solutions provider can source licensed contractors or service providers for you, freeing up your team’s time and energy to focus on providing an excellent customer experience.

Use Data to Drive Your Holiday Strategy

The beauty of collecting data is that over time, you can aggregate enough information to spot trends and patterns that will inform decisions you make in the future. FM software is a great tool for generating year-over-year reports, which you can use to assess performance during previous holiday seasons. Armed with this information, you can better predict what your staffing and maintenance needs will look like for the final few months of the year.

Before the holiday season reaches its peak, retailers should be sure all their bases are covered. By tackling everything from tactical details like floor care and staffing, to more complex measures such as data management, you can prep your retail space for a busy and successful winter season.