Memorial Day marked the official start of summer, and I am so thrilled that summer is finally here! Summer has always been my favorite season. The fun never stops with the warm weather, holiday celebrations and family vacations.
And if you are a retailer, this should really get you thinking about seasonality and the impact on your business forecast. How should our favorite things about summer be considered during the planning phase?
Weather: Did you pack your sunscreen? Wait, maybe you need an umbrella instead. There is no way to predict what Mother Nature has in store, especially if you are doing a forecast several weeks in advance. But what you can do is understand the impact that the weather has had on prior year sales. Use tagging to choose what you wish to include or exclude when calculating your forecast. Geography can also have a big impact here. A rainy day in a beach town may bring the sunbathers into the grocery store for additional sales while the same weather 50 miles inland may not cause much of a difference at all.
Holidays: There is no doubt that the summer holidays have a significant impact on the forecast. The neighborhood picnic would not be complete without the hamburgers, hotdogs and all the fixings. The spike in ice cream sales should also not be totally unexpected. So you’ve gone ahead and put in a flag for the Fourth of July (no pun intended!) but have you considered the days and weeks before, during and after the holiday? A good forecast will apply different trends depending on if you are approaching the holiday or coming out of it.
Vacations: Let’s transition from sales and items, to forecasting our staffing and availabilities. Do you have several employees taking time off for family vacations? On the flip side, do you have a lot of high school and college students that are looking to pick up hours while school is not in session? Take an inventory of your personnel and time-off requests and see where you stand. Perhaps you can share resources from the overpopulated Front End department with the deserted departments around the perimeter. Be proactive about providing training to employees that will be venturing outside of their home department. Also take the time to manage employees in your scheduling tool so that the system can do its job of providing an optimized schedule.
Now that I’ve got you thinking of the hot summer sun, holiday picnics, and your toes in the sand, let us not forget the true meaning of this Memorial Day holiday and honor all of the men and women who gave their lives while courageously fighting for our freedom. God Bless America!