When does Christmas start? When does Christmas end?

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’Twas the night before Christmas… and all the stores were closed.

Why? They needed a few hours to get ready for the AFTER Christmas sale.

All of the retail elves were home with the rest of us, anticipating the festival of unwrapping and judging the value and likeability (return-ability) of presents received.

The holiday season is a make-it-or-break-it time for most retailers and many businesses.

The day AFTER Thanksgiving, stores opening at 8am – then 7am – then 6am – then 5am – then midnight. Trying to lure customers with the size, discount, and sale of their “pre-Christmas” then, based on social pressures, changed it to a “pre holiday” extravaganza.

Seems as though businesses are willing to risk ridicule and reputation for a chance to ring their cash register.

Now while none of this is really a big deal, be aware that when some retailer, wanting to jump the gun, tries to pull off Christmas in October – or earlier – it generates thoughts in the mind of the consumer – none of them positive. And those thoughts lead to perceptions and buying decisions.

My concept of what will win is go back a decade, look at what won then, add the internet and email messaging, create a stock of inventory of WHAT PEOPLE WANT – not just what you buy cheap, and are looking to sell at a great margin – and let one customer tell another customer how great your merchandise is.

One more thing – HIRE GREAT PEOPLE – people who smile, love to serve, can multitask, can go the extra mile, and who have a base intelligence that is smarter than the merchandise.

This will require that you pay them more – train them more – and provide a work atmosphere that both employees AND customers love. This also means managers must be happy, not condescending.

Celebrate your blessings with your family, and THEN sell like hell the day after – until 5pm on Christmas Eve.

That strategy would please your customers, create word-of-mouth advertising to compliment your traditional marketing outreach, and even please the panicked shareholders once the numbers begin to emerge.

I saw a t-shirt the other day that said: Let’s keep the X in X-MAS. It’s a sign of the times, and a resign of the consumer at the same time. If you want the holiday recipe for success, take the formula above and add spirit.

If you do, the jingle bells you’ll hear will be the cha-ching! of your cash register.

As always, you can get more Gitomer here!

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