Like it or not, the holiday season has arrived — at least for Madison’s businesses.
As Thanksgiving approaches, local retailers are beginning the process of preparing for all the chaos of the holiday season and high demand among holiday shoppers, according to Jerry O’Brien, executive director at the Kohl’s Center for Retailing Excellence at the University of Wisconsin.
O’Brien said the upcoming holiday season has the potential to boost sales for Madison retailers.
“I think [this season] will be very similar to last year,” O’Brien said. “It looks to me like it will be about a 3 to 10 percent increase in sales overall for retailers, so that’s very positive.”
O’Brien said retailers are losing one full week of sales this year with Thanksgiving a week later than in past years, adding it will also likely hold back some seasonal hiring.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, also said the effects of a shorter season may cause noticeable concern among some retailers. He said many businesses in Madison need holiday season revenue to stay afloat.
“[These businesses] rely on sales, primarily between Thanksgiving and Christmas, to carry them throughout much of the rest of the year and to take care of their bottom line,” Verveer said.
O’Brien said one way businesses are battling the lost week by starting previous post-Thanksgiving sales well before Thanksgiving, as well as opening up more sales online. He added that in this way, retailers are working to minimize the effects of a shorter season.
To increase their sales during this hectic season, many Madison businesses hire more seasonal employees and increase their online presence through sales over the web, Verveer said.
Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, emphasized the importance of the holiday season’s ability to “make or break” a businesses’ year in terms of finances. The holiday season is definitely a major player in the outcome of a business’ profit, Resnick said.
O’Brien said these businesses use very precise analytical tools when they are making sales forecasts and looking to hire for the holiday season.
Retailers use these tools to predict what days and time of day sales will occur, allowing businesses to hire exactly the right amount of people they need instead of simply having to guess, O’Brien said.
Resnick said no matter how small or large the company, the time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas is critical to the health, growth and stability of a retail establishment.