January Sales: Could they work for your business?

Do you run a January sale? If you don’t, do you think you should be?

We as consumers often see January sales as a way of retailers clearing stock. If you run a business that doesn’t hold stock – be it a craft business where you make everything to order or a service based business where you sell your time, then it’s easy to dismiss sales as not being for you. But is it worth looking at them from a different angle?

Sales are just as much about stimulating demand as they are clearing stock.

And when you think about it like that, it sounds a whole lot more attractive doesn’t it! If your business is quiet in January, rather than sitting about moping about it, should you be doing something about it? A sale could be just the thing, with one caveat, it needs to be planned and executed well.

Discounting can look desperate and damage your brand. It can also affect your pricing strategy in the long term, so I would only ever do it with caution. But it really can work.

A poorly planned sale also looks weak. 10% off everything isn’t a sale – it just looks desperate. You need to give people a compelling reason to buy, and a blanket discount just won’t cut it. If you sell product, consider slicing between 25% and 70% off various groups of products rather than applying a global discount to everything. Again, this gives people a more compelling reason to buy.

Last year Clare Yarwood-White ran a sale that started on Christmas eve – her sales increased by 600% compared to the previous year, and it didn’t cannibalise her figures for the rest of the month. printing.com have run a January sale since around 2003 and it works wonders for stimulating demand (although it certainly affects margin for the month). I’ve yet to see a serviced based business pull this off, but I wonder – can it be done? Should it be done? What do you think?

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