Tricks of the trade: preparing for Christmas

Tricks of the Trade is a space for retailers and consultants to share knowledge and tips on facing everyday business challenges. This month, they give advice on preparing your store for the Christmas trading period.

Rigby & Peller managing director Ella Hitchins

Promote party lingerie
Showcase glam, glitz and fun lingerie, which work a treat under party outfits in the run up to Christmas. Also at this time of year, body shapers and solutions come in really handy as they enhance and emphasise the feminine shape.

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Offer gift ideas
Silks and nightwear make perfect gifts as they are a real treat and don’t usually require a fitting. Small, pick-up items also make fantastic stocking fillers.

Don’t forget your male customers
Deep, rich colours and sexy products are very eye catching for the male shopper who is on a hunt for the romantic gift.

Create visual ideas
Remember, men are late-night shoppers and they appreciate advice and help in selecting a gift, so create visual ideas. 

Odyssey boutique director Sarah Connelly

Plan ahead
I begin Christmas planning as soon as the Christmas period finishes so the products that sold well and clients responded to the most are fresh in my mind. I also look at how the team worked over this period an amend shift patterns accordingly.

Get inspired
I take pictures of other store windows throughout the Christmas period for inspiration, so I have a rough idea of how the store will look before we get into spring/summer mode and forget how the magic of Christmas is fantasy-like in comparison to the summer season.

Replenish continuity lines
In August/September I look again at what stock is expected in for the winter spell and start to plot my replenish orders for continuity lines so I know I won’t be short of anything. It’s inevitably a busy time for male gift shoppers, but the girls always buy slinky lingerie to wear underneath party dresses.

Mirari Lingerie owner Shirley Ryan

Stock up on gift-wrap items
Pillow packs are a boon, as they are far quicker to wrap than individual parcels and they look effective too. Free gift wrapping is a real incentive for those men who like to spoil their ladies, but don’t like to wrap presents.

Check your fairy lights
Plan your Christmas window well in advance by checking to make sure your fairy lights work, consider what the most dominant stock colour will be and ask yourself if your existing decorations coordinate with this colour.

Create a wish list
A wish list is good for the ladies who want to let their husbands know what they like. They can choose between two to three choices – that way it is still a surprise, but they know they fit.

Carry out a stock take
We always have a full stock take at this time of year – it is a really good time for going through all the stock and adding orders for the bras with missing briefs.

Hold a party for your staff
My staff are great and always make an extra effort during busy times, so a Christmas staff party is always a good way to say thank you. My best advice is to plan a party for early December as it kicks off the festive spirit in the best way. I hope you all have a bumper year this December!

Fifi Chachnil founder Fifi Chachnil

Offer a gift-wrapping service
In November, packaging is re-stocked in the various-sized Fifi boxes and bags, tissue, stickers, cards and ribbon. Where possible, stock items are pre-wrapped to save time during this busy shopping period. The usual Fifi Chachnil wrapping ribbon changes to a festive metallic gold or red in December.

Create a festive atmosphere
Traditionally, the white Fifi Chachnil Christmas trees don’t go up until December 1 and are decorated with pink and gold ornaments and ribbon. Holly is brought down from Normandy to decorate the boutiques in Paris and festive sweets are offered to visitors. Once the trees and holly are up, I host my annual Christmas Soiree in store for VIP customers, with lots of champagne.

Prepare for a surge of male shoppers
We find that Christmas is the time when most husbands make their annual visit to a Fifi Chachnil boutique. We prepare for such customers by making sure, where possible, that we have his wife’s sizes and previous purchases on file and take note of any ranges and items she’s had her eye on. Some husbands are sent down by their wife to buy something specific, her sizes in his pocket and a list of the things she likes. However, in the case where sizes and style is unknown, we prepare by having a good selection of one-size-fits-all garments as part of the autumn/ winter collections, including gowns and angora cardigans.

Flowerbags owner Gill Williams

Stock up on shapewear

With customers wanting to create that knockout look at the Christmas party, now’s the best time to ensure you can offer a great selection of shapewear and lingerie solutions. Stock up on key sizes and know your products so you can give great advice on what will work well under that special dress they’ve chosen.

Gift wrapping’s a must
With lingerie regularly purchased as a gift at Christmas, think about how you can offer that extra special service and gift wrap the order. In store, have your boxes made up and on show or, for online, get a high-resolution image and make sure your customers can see what they’re getting. Offer incentives on purchases of lingerie sets or a free gift wrapping service on a set spend. Don’t forget to practice your bow tying skills.

The whole shebang
Promote your lingerie sets. This is likely the time when men are going to want to buy lingerie for the woman in their life or women are going to buy something beautiful to put the life back into their men. Either way, make sure you show them what’s available in terms of your lovely lingerie sets. Boost sales by showing customers what’s also available in the range, to tie in with that pretty bra they’ve selected, and recommend what you think will
work well.

Extend your returns
We all know how manic it is following the festive period. Give your customers the confidence they need in purchasing from you throughout the holidays by offering them extended returns. They’ll have more faith in both you and their purchasing decision and will more likely than not return to you again knowing that it’s not just about the sale, it’s about the service you can offer.

Those little extras

If your customer has purchased a full lingerie set then don’t forget those little add-ons like a beautiful set of stockings. Showcase these extra products and novelties on your counter, as a main feature on your website or as an add-on to the online shopping basket. Think about other small extras you can provide, such as silk lingerie washbags or scented drawer liners.




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