It’s no secret that this year has been a difficult one for businesses and customers alike. From the looming threat of the virus itself to the lockdowns and restrictions that have occurred as a result, knowing where we stand has been a little trickier than usual. With the Christmas shopping rush just around the corner, we’re at another unusual point – how do we prepare for the Christmas period at a time where shopping just isn’t the same? From social distancing and unique shopping trends to insurance coverage and keeping customers happy at such a stressful time, we’ve compiled our guide to preparing your business for the Christmas rush.
The government advice at the end of September was to start Christmas shopping early and for businesses, that means preparing for the rush now. We’ve already seen jumps in retail sales, with shoppers increasing sales numbers by 5.6% in September alone, and this is only thought to grow more over the next couple of months. To really get ahead of your competitors and prepare for the already-starting Christmas rush, businesses should really get ready as soon as possible, whether that’s something as simple as dressing the window displays, or getting the holiday stock in early to avoid any potential shopping delays.
Marketing early will also help you get ahead, putting your business in the sights and minds of both seasoned early shoppers, and those who might be shopping early for the first time. Get your offers and deals out there, and jump into the festive spirit early.
Conduct Regular Risk Assessments
Safety is paramount in the current world we live in, and so conducting regular risk assessments is the best way to ensure that your staff and customers are always working and shopping safely. As numbers rise and fall and more and more people head out to do their holiday shopping, you may need to adapt and adjust your Covid measures to promote safe shopping while still enabling people to purchase what they need or want.
The Health and Safety Executive have released a guide to COVID-19 risk assessment, including everything you should consider when conducting the assessment and how each point will affect workers, customers, contractors, drivers coming in, drivers going out, visitors and more. The guide suggests that the risk assessment should:
- Determine which activities or situations could promote or cause transmission of COVID-19
- Determine who could be at risk
- Determine how likely it is that someone could be exposed to the virus
- Provide a plan of action to remove situations where risk is high, and control the risk otherwise
Get Covered Now
A good business insurance policy is a must-have over the festive period, whether that’s to cover product or property damage, or public liability insurance to ensure you and your customers remain safe in the case of accidents during such an unusual time. With the right shop cover, you can ensure that your business and assets are safe at such a difficult time both financially, and legally.
If you already have business insurance, now is the time to check your policy – what does it cover? Do you need more cover to really be safe, or an adapted policy to suit your business best? We can help advise you on what your business needs, or find you the best policy if you’re due for renewal. Just get in touch with our team.
Stock Up Regularly
The supply chain could be under immense pressure this holiday period. As suppliers and couriers alike need to operate within guidelines too, there could be limited availability, or things could just take a lot longer. If you have products you know tend to sell well at Christmas or during the winter months, it’s best to make sure you have sufficient stock as early as possible and restock earlier than you might have usually. This way, you can provide the products your customers need, when they need them.
Prepare Your Business For Online Shopping
Not every business is e-commerce ready, and until this year, many businesses were also able to function perfectly well without it. However, the first lockdown showed us just how useful and important online shopping really was. For customers, online shopping meant still being able to get hold of the products they know and love, even while stuck in their homes. For businesses, it meant still being able to make substantial sales where products were still in demand and even couriers benefitted from the rush, as it meant they were also maintaining their business.
As Christmas approaches, the demand for online shopping is expected to grow exponentially. The ease of having gifts delivered to the door without having to embark into a socially-distanced world is a demand that more and more people are making. Even click and collect orders are seeing a rise, due to the ease of popping in and out of a store. If your business can offer a reliable online shopping and delivery experience, customers are likely to not only purchase from you first but return if they need anything more in the coming weeks.
Be Prepared For Rapid Rule Changes
Being prepared isn’t exactly easy in the current climate, with the rules and regulations constantly changing according to what the country needs. It’s difficult to make any business plans for the future but one thing is for certain – we all need to be prepared for further rule changed in the run-up to Christmas. Whether that’s increased social distancing, more localities going into Tier 3 alerts or even a nation-wide circuit breaker lockdown, these could all affect how businesses run, As these rules change, so do people’s priorities when it comes to buying, so it’s important to be prepared to adapt and change up how your business works as needed over the holiday period and beyond.
Find The Perfect Balance Of Safety And Business Needs
Ultimately, much of preparing for the Christmas rush comes down to finding the perfect balance between customer and worker safety, and the overall needs of the business. Businesses need to make money over the festive period – for a lot of companies, it’s their busiest and most fruitful time and making the most out of it could be the difference between staying afloat, or going under. But the safety of customers and employees should always be a priority, and so finding that all-important balance could be the difference between success and struggles.
By conducting the risk assessments mentioned before, offering online shopping and deliveries as an option for those who don’t feel safe shopping on foot just yet and making sure you’re ready for changes, you can keep your business running over the coming weeks while ensuring customers are not only safe but happy and satisfied too.
For more information about how business insurance can protect you in the run-up to Christmas and beyond, feel free to get in touch with Ashburnham Insurance.