Planning for a Successful New Year in Retail

Following the holiday rush, it can be a challenge to transition your retail store into a new year without a solid plan in place. The beginning of the year can be slow, but it is also a good time to try new strategies and products and get rid of the old. Here are some ideas from DEMDACO Visual Display Coordinator, Christine Scharf for starting a new year in retail on the right foot, followed by how one gift retailer goes about it.


Clear out holiday merchandise as soon as possible and refresh your store with sale items and signage. Try some fun and unexpected sales ideas to push out old inventory, including placing holiday sales inventory toward the back of the store.

Increase Foot Traffic During Slow Times

  • The beginning of the year is a slow time for everyone. Offering gift cards and other promotions during the holidays to ensure they’ll come back is always a wise move. And remember, people typically spend more than the amount on their gift cards.
  • Try throwing trunk shows and other brief specials that create urgency and provide food and drinks as an added incentive. Promote with social media or even traditional media.
  • Increase your frequency of posts on social media channels. Share out new inventory or new lines you are bringing in to entice your online followers to come explore!
  • Focus on wellness and ways to support New Year’s resolutions with planners, calendars, and inspirational items. Designer water bottles are a big hit right now.

Try New Inventory

  • Make a list of what your customers need and ask for throughout the year.
  • Try something unexpected in your store that could open your door to new customers and new opportunities.
  • Follow trends and if you attend gift shows, do research prior to attending. If you buy what’s on-trend or go with specific trendy colors and designs in mind, make sure it works with what you already keep in stock.

A Conversation with Caye Crosswhite from Naomi’s Hallmark

Naomi’s Hallmark has been in business since 1980, with two stores located in the Kansas City area. Here’s how Caye Crosswhite, the store’s vice-president gets ready for a new year:

Naomi’s Hallmark, Shawnee, Kansas

How do you prepare for a new year in retail?

We use all available data to study every aspect of our business and store performance including product categories/lines, promotions, social media, employee training and vendor partnerships. The old adage, Retail is Detail is especially true here.

Based on research, we create our business and marketing plans. I put everything in writing…goals, strategies, tactics… so our team is on the same page. We use these plans as motivational tools with our store associates. I also involve our vendors since they are key partners in our success.

For calendar year 2020, we will begin our formal goal setting immediately after December numbers are available. However, we have some plans already in place. Additionally, our management team meets at least every month to discuss performance and brainstorm new ideas.

Do you attend gift shows? If so, how do you prepare?

I have attended all of the major gift shows, but frequent the Atlanta show most often. Prior to attending, I put together a daily schedule of showrooms and lines to visit. I network with other buyers and vendors as well.

How else do you stay on top of trends in the industry?

Trade/consumer online and printed publications can provide a wealth of information. I keep an ongoing list of ideas and products to research. If I cannot attend a particular show, I’ll visit the market and/or sponsoring organization online. When online, I visit markets that I wouldn’t normally attend but allow me to explore new ideas.

My background is marketing communications, and I use many of the same principles and creative-thinking skills in retail…whether to source products, merchandise, create promotions or store events.

How do you plan for slow times?

I note holidays, promotions, vendor events on a calendar and then plan for voids, both from a staffing and marketing standpoint.

I keep a customer’s perspective and what would make she/he visit and re-visit our stores. Anything and everything can be something to celebrate and promote, as long as it is meaningful to our customers.