Creativity can set small retailers apart from national chains, which often provide holiday discounts smaller stores cannot afford to beat. Selling innovative products that can’t be found in large retailers will create a unique customer experience that will attract shoppers.

Many small retailers earn 25 percent or more of their total annual sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas, making it a critical sales period for local businesses. While the holiday shopping season can have tremendous benefits for these retailers, it can also present huge challenges, according to the Small Business Administration.

Local businesses have smaller profit margins than national chains, and they generally do not have the sales volume or resources to compete with the discounts offered by big name retailers. The SBA offers tips to help retailers avoid these obstacles.

During the business holiday season, it’s important for all small retailers to stay on top of their inventory. Knowing how much product to order and when to order can be the difference between having money in the bank or aging product on the shelf.

Hiring the wrong people for key positions can cause major problems for small businesses, who have fewer levels of management and less direct supervision. Writing detailed job descriptions and training new employees will help get the job done right the first time.

Cash flow is what keeps the doors of small businesses open. Without it, businesses could not pay suppliers or make payroll. To increase cash flow, business owners can eliminate unprofitable account relationships, collect accounts receivable in a timely manner, and not keep too much cash tied up in unnecessary inventory.

The SBA encourages small retailers to embrace online sales and social media. More than $115 billion in online sales were made during the third quarter of 2017, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau reports - a 3.6 percent increase over the previous quarter. Consumers are turning to the web for holiday purchases, and it’s imperative that retailers establish and promote their online presence.

As much fun as social events are, they can be a distraction at a time when productivity is most important. Postponing the office party until after New Year’s Day can help employees and managers stay focused during the busiest time of the year.

Creativity can set small retailers apart from national chains, which often provide holiday discounts smaller stores cannot afford to beat. Selling innovative products that can’t be found in large retailers will create a unique customer experience that will attract shoppers.

For more tips for your small business this holiday season, visit sba.gov.

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