January 01, 2015

Shifting Sales Into December

One of the significant trends of the past decade is the shift of sales, vacating summer, vacating Oct/Nov, moving into December.

Some of this is inevitable. When you can order something on December 21 and receive it on December 23, sales are going to shift.

Some of this is convenience. We ask our customers to purchase gift cards, moving sales out of Oct/Nov.


Some of this is our promotional strategy - driving bigger discounts later in the season, pushing gifts, driving the customer to act later.

There are consequences, as always.

  1. December buyers almost always have lower long-term value than other customers.
  2. If discounting increases, the push of business later in the season yields less profit.
  3. We perceive the business to be failing in Oct/Nov (not meeting plan) - then we liquidate prematurely, then we exceed plan in December, causing us to mismanage inventory buys and to think we're succeeding/failing when we're simply shifting business.
Study the ten-year shift in business, by month, when you get to work next week. You'll be surprised by what you learn.