Time is running out to get your store in shape for the holidays

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The winter holidays themselves are still months away, but retail businesses should already be preparing for the increase in customer traffic and sales that come along with them. Ideally, merchants are done with their planning, or at least close to it. However, not all retailers have put together all of their resources for the holidays – and they shouldn't worry, as long as they take action soon. Although time is starting to slip away, there's still enough left to put together an effective strategy for the holidays and make any last-minute purchases for use in visual merchandising efforts.

Put together a strategy
The most important thing for retailers to do is have a strategy for dealing with the unique aspects of the winter holiday retail season. This should be the first priority if not already completed and be finished as soon as possible. Without a plan for displays, sales and reorganization of the sales floor – not to mention staffing, merchandise ordering and other concerns – business owners will find it difficult, if not impossible, to take advantage of the increased traffic and realize more sales. Having some kind of plan in place is vital to success during the coming months.

Determine what's going to change on the sales floor
Having new displays is crucial during the holidays, whether it's to highlight the hot new product at the top of Christmas lists or a group of items on sale with a price point that's attractive to consumers. No matter the motivation, it's important for retail store owners to plan out their visual merchandising efforts and effectively highlight these products. There are plenty of different holiday-themed props, decor and accessories to match the approach of an individual store to these displays, whether it's candy canes and nutcrackers or muted reds and greens used as a table cover or other background element.

Have the little things taken care of
One unique consideration to make during the holidays is offering some sort of packaging for purchases intended to be gifts. Offering gift wrap and bags can help improve the customer experience while balancing the needs of a store and the skills of employees. Gift wrap and bags aren't a major cost for most retailers, but they'll pay off when customers remember the positive experience and convenience.

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