Winter trading: how to beat the January lull

Christmas and New Year have come and gone, making the transition into January a rather dull and dreary one in comparison to the festive December season. And precisely for this reason, small enterprises may be feeling the pinch. Getting through the winter period is often tough when business is slow to pick up after the expensive year-end, but it needn’t be like that for too long. Here are some ways you can beat the January lull and pull your company out of the slump and get it back on track for the rest of the year.

Throw in a sale

There’s nothing like a January sale to get us back into the shopping spirit. Given that December was likely to have been an expensive month, with Christmas presents, meals, celebrations and New Year’s festivities to break the bank, January sales will entice shoppers to continue spending with lower prices as the luring factor.

Regardless of whether you are a physical or digital business, now may be a good time to peddle your old goods at a lower price to get things off your shelves in preparation for fresh stock. Your profits may be marginal, but they are profits nonetheless and clearing up some space will pave the way for a prosperous 2019, especially if you use January to the fullest as a transition period.

Be prepared

January is the perfect time to get your business ready for the upcoming year. The next event around the corner is Valentine’s Day, followed by Mother’s Day, and then Easter isn't too far away, so this particular down-period can be used to manage your stock, handle logistics, and maybe even draw up a comprehensive marketing strategy. Use this month wisely to get your business in the right mindset and capacity for 2019, and approach it from the perspective that no amount of extra preparation can be considered enough to set you up for a successful year ahead.

Continue the wintry feel

The holidays may be over, but the winter season is not, so why should the wintry charm disappear once January rolls around? This is most applicable to physical businesses in the retail and F&B industry; it may be worth prolonging your winter decorations to keep a warm vibe open and available to your customers. It needn’t be Christmassy; simple things like an open fireplace, winter-themed decorations or a menu tailored to the season will strike the right chord with customers and invite them into your store with the expectation that a cosy winter feel will lift them from their January blues.

Internal improvements

If, however, you have accepted that January will be a slow month, it is perhaps worth turning your business focus inwards. Instead of beginning marketing campaigns and sales pushes in the post-holiday slump, work on improving your business from the inside-out. This can be in the form of performance reviews for your employees, establishing goals and strategies with each department, and general housekeeping of the books and accounts to ensure that everything is in ship-shape for the year going forward.

If you are a physical business, now may be the time to work on your online presence, or even host a charity event to increase your company’s PR. While internal improvements are important, you also cannot ignore your external presence, especially with your customers.

There is no doubt that January is a challenging month for small and medium sized businesses, but there are ways to get around the slump. Whether you choose to adapt with the season or focus on making changes and improvements from within, any efforts in this transition period will prove fruitful as the year goes by in the form of greater sales and better customer loyalty.

Happy January!