OK boys & girls, Labor Day is over and I'm going to say it:
Holiday. (wince) Yep, it's time to rev it up and kick it into gear!
Start creating plans for some fabulous merchandise displays and window showcases for the fall & winter holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, and New Years Eve. Get a bead on how much merchandise you actually ordered at the gift show last January (you may want to sit down for that one....) and plan out how to cross-merchandise it, how much space it needs, where it will be located in your shop, what fixtures you'll use, what props you can add to the displays to make them memorable, then get busy creating some inspiring displays!
Holiday means more than it used to - for one thing, it encompasses Halloween! What we call 'The Holiday Season' begins in early October and doesn't end until January 2nd. Your Halloween merchandise should already be out on the sales floor in fabulous displays, in the windows, and featured in your ads.
Remember not to load every last product display with Halloween stuff, though - many people choose to celebrate a fall harvest instead, so don't turn them off with witches & ghosts everywhere in your shop. Respect your customers' choices and give them tools to celebrate their way. This concept is true for Christmas, as well - don't overload every display, window, and wall shelf with Christmas. Leave some displays as 'everyday' merchandise, and make Hannukah merchandise very easy to find. Your customers will love you for it!
I recommend that the first items you roll out for Christmas are the greeting cards and gift wrap. Most people stock up on these before the shopping begins, so get them out there this month. Remember to make up some mock packages with beautiful bows on them - maybe even an ornament or two tied on, as well - to up the profile and sales of your paper goods. By placing these products near your cashwrap, you can leave them there all through the season - making stocking easy, access easy, and help your customers to remember to replenish their supply. It doesn't take a lot of space, trust me, but it can be a nice 'soft' entrance for your Christmas rollout. Sort of softens the shock of the impending season for those of us who still don't know where summer went...