Kevin Hillstrom's Dear Dr. pROfIt: Planning Holiday Sales Forecasts
Dear Dr. pROfIt: Last year we scheduled our big spring sale event the week after Mother’s Day, and it was a huge success. This year, we decided to move the event to the week prior to Mother’s Day, and it missed expectations by 20 percent. Did moving the event one week earlier cause the problem? Was it the economy or something else?
Dr. pROfIt: It's possible that Mother’s Day had an impact on your event. Anytime an email campaign, catalog mailing or sale event is moved from one side of a holiday to another, unusual things can happen.
Holidays have a way of chopping off the sales tail. Often, you'll see sales increases early in the week, only to see those sales rapidly decline in the days leading up to the holiday. Sales seldom rebound in the days following a holiday. Try creating a new event to generate interest, as holidays cause customers to shift focus from the old event to the holiday.
From a sales forecasting standpoint, it's important to discount the effectiveness of a marketing event if it occurs just after a holiday vs. just prior to a holiday. Make sure that forecasted sales are generously allocated to the five days or six days prior to a holiday, and are generally discounted in the couple of days leading up to a holiday.
These trends are especially true for direct-to-consumer websites, where the trends shift even earlier. For instance, consumers don't trust brands to send a tie for Father’s Day in the days leading up to the holiday, so they shift their purchases into the 10 days to 14 days prior to the holiday. Sales events must be correlated with holidays, and with the sales that lead up to holidays.
Always plan your marketing calendar around existing holidays in order to maximize sales opportunities.