The December trading period with its run up to Christmas is of key importance for the majority of retailers. Without the Christmas trade some well known high street retailers would have disappeared long ago. A look at WHSmith’s account show that their 6 months that ends in February delivers 70% of their annual profits!

Terry Philpott wrote about how he manages Christmas in his store. While his store traded close to its 2011 level during the first 7 days of December he knows that as Christmas Day is on Tuesday this year the full trading picture will not be fully revealed until early January when the ‘bank holiday effect’ fully unwinds.

So how is your December trade this year? Here is a check list for you to consider.  We hope it will help you make the most of the last few weeks before Christmas Eve.

Go outside your store and check that your shop front is inviting the people who are walking past to come in and telling them what your offer is.
Is the path/forecourt, clean tidy and safe for your customers to use.
With the shorter days does your store stand out.
Can your key marketing messages be seen from outside your shop.
Are you ready for snow and ice with a supply of salt and grit to make your outside space safe for customers

Moving inside your store can our customers see your main promotion bays easily, are they well stocked with the offer clearly advertised.
Do you use secondary promotion positions around your store.
Are all your promotions posters and shelf barkers correct.
Do you check your best sellers and promotions everyday to ensure that you are making best use of your space.
Are all your lights working, replace any bulbs or tubes that have failed to make your store as bright as it can be.
Your customers will expect that you decorate your store, they probably wont comment if your don’t, but they will notice.

Your staff are your store ambassadors so have you given them refresher training to ensure that they know what you are expecting them to do and how they should connect with your customers.
Do you ensure that they know what you are promoting and are they encouraged to sell.

Hopefully you will be seeing an upturn in sales during December so you will potentially have more money going through your tills. Do you have a process to minimise the risk of being robbed. Will you be banking cash daily.
Review what you and your staff should do the in case of a robbery. If you are unsure contact your local police crime prevention office of their best advice.

Marketing, how are you getting your key message out to your customers? Many retailers are busy using Twitter  to tell the customers about their keys offers and encouraging them to place their orders where appropriate.  To start using with social media effectively read the betterRetailing Guide.

Have you checked on your consumables like bags, till and credit card machine rolls.

These are just a few ideas and we will publish another post on what to do in December next week.