Fall Retail: Thinking Ahead

Make the most of the holiday season with a retailing plan that will give you plenty to celebrate come 2016.

DAYSPA contributing editor Lisa StarrDAYSPA contributing editor Lisa Starr

DAYSPA contributing editor Lisa Starr

Unless your spa is in a resort locale, summer is probably your slowest time of the year, especially August. This relatively quiet time is ideal for strategizing for the busy fall selling and gifting season. Here are some steps you can take to prepare.

1. Carefully evaluate your stock situation.

Look at your shelves and review your end-of-July physical inventory count. Anything that is summer-related should be re-merchandised or promoted to free up shelf space and purchasing dollars. Durable goods such as sandals or baseball caps can be put away for next year, but sunscreens, tanning products and summery lotions and scrubs should be priced to move.

2. Revisit your open-to-buy budget.

If your summer retail was successful, you may have a few more dollars to add to your forecast. Your retail purchasing budget should be divided into two segments: normal sales items such as skincare, nail and hair products; and specialty retail, which is more seasonal and/or gift-oriented. Your budget for purchases of industry items should be reflective of business statistics from the previous year, combined with your forecast or intuition. Then you will know what you have to spend for gift retail.

3. Review your marketing calendar for the remainder of the year.

Look at promotions planned with vendors as well as the introduction of new services or equipment to your regular treatment menu. There will be a few logical tie-ins for you to expand upon with exciting retail choices, making the promotions better rounded and effective, so be sure to highlight these opportunities.

4. Examine product sales reports from the previous year’s Q3 and Q4.

If you’re in the habit of offering seasonal merchandise, you may have had a hot seller in 2014 that you’ve already forgotten about. This could have been a trend item, or something that surprised you by the demand. Either way, it makes sense to reconsider that item, vendor or category.

5. Armed with a budget and a plan, go shopping!

You might find some appropriate retail items at a spa or salon trade show, but a gift fair or merchandise mart offers an expanded selection of fun and seasonal items, from hand-crafted personal care to candles and home products, jewelry, travel retail, accessories and seasonal gifts. Large gift fairs are held twice a year—for summer and winter buying—and the winter markets have already begun. If you can’t make the dates or locations of one of these shows, many large cities, such as Atlanta, Chicago and San Francisco, have a year-round merchandise mart that you can visit as long as you have a resale business license.

If you’re new to shopping the gift market and providing expanded retail options to your clients, don’t worry: the merchants are happy to guide you through the process. Many have low minimum order requirements, which will enable you to try a few different product lines. A good strategy is to experiment with a wide variety at first, to get a sense of what interests your clients. Buy three to six pieces of an item, rather than a dozen or two; if it sells quickly, you can usually reorder in time for the holidays.

Don’t forget to invest in holiday bags and packaging, as well as props for your visual merchandising. The best news is that many of these items provide opportunities for higher margins than traditional beauty retail, so you can increase revenue as well as profit. Happy selling!—Lisa Starr

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