Holiday sales can make or break many small businesses. With four bakeries (and four kids), Nothing Bundt Cakes’ Kim Wright counts her blessings … and her receipts.
by Kim Wright, guest columnist
On the last Sunday in October, I loaded up my brood of boys with my husband in tow and we headed out for our annual photos with Santa. We were decked out in reds and plaids and met Jolly Old Saint Nick with his reindeer for a magical Christmas moment … in 70˚ weather. We fed Comet and Cupid and my youngest took in the magic of the holiday season with the biggest smile and a twinkle in his eye. We were living in our very own Hallmark movie. The following day, we exchange our flannels for zombie, pirate, Spiderman and cat costumes to trick-or-treat and celebrate Halloween. The timeline seems illogical, but what’s even wilder is managing the holiday season as a small business owner.
The holiday season in the retail and hospitality industries mean extended work hours, added stress, countless challenges and making miracles happen like it’s “34th Street.” This peak season is an annual tradition for small business owners. But since the 2020 pandemic, businesses are dealing with issues of Christmas past at amplified levels.
Most small businesses need seasonal help during the final months of the year, but The Great Resignation of 2021 ultimately resulted in fewer people to fill the number of jobs in question. Additionally, many small businesses lack the labor budget to compete with big box stores for the limited number of job seekers. While many small businesses can’t offer high-dollar hourly rates, the positive culture and personal recognition from working in small business can reap both immediate rewards and long-term benefits for employees including friendship, mentorship, and a path to professional development.
Higher costs of goods (COGS) and rising freight costs to receive necessary goods result in lower profit margins for small businesses. Raising consumer prices is one way to combat the problem. But determining whether to implement a price increase to offset the rising COGS versus potentially losing would-be shoppers with an increase is enough to keep any small business owner awake like “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Remember when toilet paper was an in-demand commodity? While our store shelves are no longer bare of TP, businesses are still struggling to source goods in the timely fashion that is essential for our industries. Eventually, our ordered goods are received but it’s a question of if they are supplied when there is a demand. Receipt in January of 2023 renders many of those goods worthless.
The operational business challenges owners face during this time of year can be overwhelming. Add to that family obligations of holiday shopping, cookie baking, gift exchanges, holiday portraits and other traditions and even the most talented multi-tasker can end up feeling like Grandma got run over by a reindeer. For most of the retail and hospitality industries, this season can mean reduced family time and participating in only a few, select holiday traditions. Who is on the nice list and who is on the naughty list? It’s tough to decide.
The holiday season is essentially 4-12 weeks depending on the industry. It’s an opportunity to meet and hopefully exceed year-over-year (YOY) sales goals. A common expectation is to produce approximately 25% of annual revenue during this portion of an entire year. Accomplishing this means making a list and checking it twice… or multiple lists countless times.
No two holiday seasons are alike except that every holiday season is a marathon that begins as soon as pumpkin spice starts to appear and doesn’t end until the countdown to the new year. Maybe Santa photos before Halloween seems crazy. But this #bossmom plans to SLEIGH this holiday season and that’s how we kicked things off.
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Want to more stories about local businesses? Read Lady Bosses We Love and Meet Professor Alston: Local CEO Heads To Penn State.
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