Reviewing Christmas

How was your Christmas?

All retailers have been asking one another that same question over the last few weeks. And many times the answer you get leads you to scratch your head and question what the criteria are that some retailers use to judge what a successful Christmas looks like.

Reviewing your Christmas activity should be a straight forward and compulsory activity for all retailers. After all, Christmas trading can represent up to 40% of the annual profit in some categories. So how do you undertake a review of Christmas?

The first thing you should be doing is understanding the context of your sales performance. Every Christmas just about the first market data that is released is the Cashcard Index. It will give you a broad (all retail) overview of year on year and month on month market growth. The next thing you need is a number from the landlord for your category's growth month on month and year on year. You'll then have a pretty good set of basic indicators for reasonable expectation from the period and comparison of your relative performance in top line sales.

The next thing you need to examine is your profit. What did you achieve in profit contribution versus last year? What contributed to the increase or decrease in performance? What happened by week? What was the foot-traffic like through the period? What was your conversion rate week by week? Where did you win and where did you lose? Seek feedback from the staff – what could we have done better, what did we do well?

Both within our category and outside our category who had the best Christmas and what did they do that helped them to win?

All of that analysis then needs to be fed into your planning for next year. Understanding that Christmas trading is a doughnut (peaks early and late with a hole in the middle ten days) along with all the performance data should lead you to set a tight list of no more than ten areas you need to focus on for next year.

Ten things that, if executed well, would lead to a demonstrable lift in sales and profit outcomes. Then establish a work-plan that gives you a work-back schedule with plenty of room for slippages. Christmas is not about magic in a retail business. Christmas is a period where planning wins. It wins because – more than any other factor – Christmas is a logistics exercise both for the retailer and the customer.

The right goods, in the right place, at the right time, in the right way for the customer to buy easily.

And it all comes back to Christmas past.

Learn from this Christmas now and plan for greater success next Christmas.