Small business strategies to beat the January trading lull

In the wake of the spending sprees that accompany Christmas and New Year, January is often seen as a fairly fallow period for trading. If you’re a small business owner still factoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic into your bottom line, then this can be a worrying thought at the start of a new year.

Often, the remainder of winter is a case of just getting through the rest of the season until trading picks up again in the spring. However, it doesn’t have to be this way and there are strategies that your company can undertake to beat the lull and start the year strongly.

January sales
Hardly a well-kept trading secret, but the classic January sale is nonetheless a fantastic way to get customers coming back in after New Year. After the expenditure of Christmas and New Year celebrations, lower prices, special offers and other deals are a tried and tested way to entice people back to the shops.

Even if your business is digital rather than physical, January is still a great time to begin offering your services at a reduced price, potentially enabling you to tempt in new clients at the start of the year. Profits generated this way may not be sky high, but starting the year with a profit is better than the opposite!

Focus internally
Even if sales are likely to be slower than usual, this doesn’t have to be a negative and a period of less hectic trading can be a great time to focus on internal improvements for your business. You could perhaps start the year conducting performance reviews and gaining feedback from your employees. This will enable you to establish goals and strategies on an individual or departmental level that can then help to shape a broader business strategy for the rest of the year.

January is also a perfect time for a bit of general housekeeping of your business’ accounts and processes, ensuring that everything is in good shape and running efficiently at the outset of the new year. Other improvements might include working on your social media strategy, improving your online presence or establishing a schedule of events and promotions for later in the year.

Prepare for the next holidays
January is a great time for preparation and, while the next big holidays may seem a while away, putting in the work ahead of time can enable your business to capitalise effectively and potentially make up for a slow trading period with stronger sales later in the year.

Once the lull of January has passed, it isn’t in fact that long until the next commercial trading seasons. Valentine’s Day is next and represents a perfect opportunity to begin new themed displays and sales. This is followed by Mother’s Day and, once that has gone, Easter will only be a few weeks away.


January is of course a challenging month, especially for smaller businesses. But taking a few steps to try and jump-start sales or prepare for busier trading periods can help to ensure that the first month of the year starts you out on the right foot, rather than being a write-off that you’re just trying to make your way through.

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