Laura Case wrote in to ask:
First off, there is so much information online, but you usually have to purchase the reports (the company conducting and compiling the research has to make money). Last week, I blogged about 10 Must-Click Websites. You might find a resource here that can provide more information.
As for your specific questions Laura:
For nearly every retail category, the holidays are the busiest time of the year. This is especially true for a gift store concept. So, it makes sense to open your store in the fall and capitalize on the holiday time period. A September or October opening gives you time to get your store operating at peak efficiency before heading into the holidays. Opening a retail store in the middle of winter is tough (unless you’re selling winter goods), so it’s best to avoid November – March when people are hibernating.
Beware, the highs in retail seem to be getting higher and the lows lower. If you open in the fall, you’ll have a booming holiday time period followed by the post-holiday hangover. Be prepared for your sales to drop dramatically as January and February will be fairly slow as consumers realize they overspent on the holidays and slam their wallets shut. The one potential bright spot might be Valentine’s Day. But without knowing more about your concept, it’s tough to know which holidays you’ll focus on. Depending on which direction you go, every holiday could be an opportunity if you’re going more in the party/gift store direction. If you’re going more in the specialty gift store direction, then mass market holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Halloween – Christmas are going to be your big opportunities. Other holidays like weddings (April – June), Graduation, etc. could also be opportunities.
The key in successfully opening a store is to focus on getting the store open a month or two prior to the time period when you think your opportunity for sales is greatest. By doing so, you’ll have higher sales and hopefully can achieve some cash flow company to fund your store in slower time periods.
As for the seasonality selling trends question, those trends again are totally dependent on your store concept and your merchandising strategy. Every season could be an opportunity for you. Or not. You have to clearly outline your merchandising strategy and then allow that to drive sales trends during each season. Trying to create seasonality in your retail concept usually only results in devaluing your brand (who wants to buy Halloween candy from a jewelry store (yes, I did see that once)? It doesn’t make brand sense.