Friday, December 26, 2014

What I Learned About Our Customers From the Clearance Table.

1. Like many retailers, our December has been back up to two years ago levels after a not-so-great holiday last year. Fortunately that December capped a strong year, so it wasn't really an issue. But as a result, I cut our holiday boxed cards for 2014 and we found ourselves with very left to sell for the last week, and pretty much nothing at clearance (only about a dozen boxes).  Next year I'll bring my numbers back up a bit.

2. We don't bring in too much packaged holiday wrap but only one was a complete dud. It was a cartoon nativity scene. What I learned from this was that we have customer who like cute and customer who like religious, but not too many who like both at the same time.

3. Our biggest problem was ornaments was that our original display went out a bit late and in a place where the ornaments were hard to see. There were some duds which I caught as soon as we started receiving (they looked better in the catalog) and some others that surprised me. But in the end, our sales have wound up being about flat with last year. I wish our sell through was better, but Jason reminded me that in this seasonal business, a 75% sell through is a hit, whereas I want everything to sell out 100% before the holiday. I need to remember that when we sell everything through too quickly and completely, we are left with disappointing customers that last week.

4. Also on the clearance table, we've got some puzzles with damaged packaging, some summer stuff that didn't work, some things that have been hanging around in the store too long, and a few display leftovers like one bird kite, which otherwise were quite popular. I'm pretty sure there's at least one box of markdowns that we can't find. I'm not sure why, but this happens every year. I think it's probably piled below some old invoices or second-hand books in storage.

5. I thought we were out of the lamp, which is from 2013 at least. But here it is, pulled from its well-hidden box.

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