Planning early and smartly for the holiday season is the only sure-fire way to finish 2015 on a high.

Experts agree – planning early and smartly for the holiday season is the only sure-fire way to finish 2015 on a high.

With the recent abolition of enforced Boxing Day retail closures across Sydney's suburbs and regional NSW, and consumer confidence predicted to be on the increase in the lead up to the Christmas trading period, this year's holiday shopping season is set to be more frenzied than ever.

Gift giving, as well as hitting the Boxing Day sales, are two Aussie summer traditions that represent a huge opportunity for retailers – plus many other associated small business operators – to close out 2015 on a high.

Marketing strategy and analytics expert James Mendelsohn says any small business has the potential to attract shoppers during their holiday season splurge via tailored marketing and smart planning.

“Every day is as important as the last during the holiday shopping season, so think ahead and have a plan in place for your business to save time and prevent stress,” he says in a feature article on the Retail TouchPoints website.

“Start your inventory planning now; build a sales forecast by analysing past holiday season sales, and based on those numbers you can estimate the amount of inventory your business will need to last through the end of the year.”

“As your business starts to put together its holiday plans, don’t think of it as a quarterly project,” Mendelsohn says. “Think of it as a long-term plan to convert holiday customers into regular customers.”

Small business consultant Joseph Brady warns that waiting too long to plan for holiday sales can be costly. He says it's particularly important to make sure you roster adequately, ensuring you have enough staff and they are well trained.

“Pushing for a rush of holiday sales without preparing for the rise in customer needs will only set you up for disappointment,” he says on the blog.

“Hiring a few extra employees to help handle the crowds will make sure that each customer has the personal service needed to make their experience with you a pleasant one.

“Be careful to make these staff additions early enough for adequate training,” Brady says. “A multitude of employees who haven't had time to learn the ropes will only lead to chaos, especially when you experience the seasonal rush.”

Kathy McGovern, director of product marketing at online marketing service provider Vertical Response, says the best way to plan for the Christmas rush is to use last holiday season as a benchmark and try to improve on it.

“What worked? What didn’t?” she asks on the company's blog.

“Apply what you learned from that experience to this year’s marketing strategy. You also know what’s worked this year thus far – product types, advertising, social media campaigns. Leverage what’s been working for you and apply it to your holiday marketing activities,” McGovern says.

“Once you know which products you want to focus on, start thinking about how you want to spend your advertising dollars and where you want to expend your marketing efforts. What’s going to create the biggest bang for your buck?"

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