Retail Pro Tip: In Praise of Doing the Holiday Hustle


It was December 19th and there I was on a near-empty plane returning home from a meeting with a mega-retailer on a day that began with me being summoned from a near-empty vendor lobby.

Back in my sales days, I caught plenty of flak over my habit of scheduling retailer meetings close to the holidays...all of it from co-workers and other suppliers of course, because retailers don't have the luxury of taking the holidays off.

My personal experience, and ongoing reports from my supplier and agency clients, prove time and again that the "holidays" are an ideal time to get to work on retail initiatives and yes, to schedule meetings with retailers. Why? Because that’s when retailers are focused, obsessed with making business happen and undistracted by meetings with suppliers (otherwise known as your competitors), the vast majority of which are rationalizing taking off or "getting things going after the first of the year." More and more, retailers are also leveraging the post-holiday lull to plan next year's holiday strategy while impressions are fresh.

My clients who have heeded this advice have experienced some nice benefits to include:

  • Faster decision-making
  • Access to higher-level decision-makers who aren't normally available
  • Greater focus and buy-in from retail decision-makers
  • Increased (and enduring) respect
  • Killer momentum going into Q1 (while competitors are playing catch-up)

Oh, yeah. And big business, which brings me back to my story…

Just before takeoff on that fateful day, I checked my voice mail and was surprised to have received a message from my mega-retailer contact. She normally waited at least a couple of weeks to get back to me but knowing that she always got right down to business, I dialed her up.

The conversation went like this:

"Hi Dee, just about to take off but returning your call."

"Great. Start writing."

To my shock and extreme delight, she went on to rattle off 12 SKU numbers with quantities in the thousands. We hung up just as the flight attendant was giving me the side eye. Off went the phone, out came the calculator... $7 million and change.

Hassle or Hustle? You decide!