Here’s good news, retailers.
It appears that the average person celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah plans to spend about $804 on gifts and festivities, about 5 percent more than last year, according to the National Retail Federation’s Holiday Consumer Spending Survey.
The survey found that consumers will spend an average of $460 on gifts for their families, $80 on friends and $26 on co-workers. They will also spend on pets, babysitters, decorations, food and flowers.
While about 40 percent of consumers indicated they started shopping in October, the National Retail Federation’s holiday sales forecast says spending in November and December will be up 4.1 percent at $616.9 billion and retailers plan to hire up to 800,000 seasonal workers.
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In all the chaos, however, small-business owners can’t afford to ignore risks that threaten a company’s seasonal success.
Scott Humphrey, director of technical service and risk management at property and casualty insurer Travelers, said protecting your business starts with hiring the right people to help with the holiday rush.
“Do a background and credit check, and understand who they are,” Humphrey said.
Theft policies and consequences should be defined and explained to new employees, he said. Cameras are a theft deterrent, and create evidence that can be used in court.
Owners should also have a system in place that allows them to monitor voided transactions and returns to detect fraud, Humphrey said. Monitoring profit margins in different departments or product categories could also help owners identify loss.
Companies with high traffic and low margins might want to consider looking at those figures daily, he said.
Also, owners should hire enough employees to monitor the store and train those hires before the holiday rush. If employees drive for the company, make sure they have the appropriate licenses and insurance, he said.
Retailers planning for the holiday shopping season should look at their company’s sequential flow and establish backup plans for disruptions, such as a vendor being unable to deliver products or services.
Mike DeHetre, who oversees Travelers’ small-business services, said owners should talk to their insurance agents about products to protect their companies in case all of their systems fail.
In other good news, eight in 10 Americans are likely to shop at local businesses this holiday season, according to a Yelp-commissioned Neilson survey.
About 44 percent indicated they are planning to shop before Thanksgiving, and 66 percent will have started by Dec. 1.
Tap into that local market by participating in and marketing during the fifth annual Small Business Saturday Nov. 29.
That day, American Express merchants get free marketing materials and listings, but owners can also rally their neighborhoods around their businesses, add one-day promotions and connect with local movements, such as Shop Local Raleigh and Sustain-a-Bull in Durham.