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To Be Open or Not? Determining Your Hours Over the Holidays

8 min read
Uniform Market December 27, 2016

Holidays like Christmas, the 4th of July and Memorial Day present a dilemma for business owners.  It can be hard for business owners to know how to determine store hours during the holidays. In addition, you will have to decide how many staff members are needed to help the store run well without overstaffing and wasting your business’s budget.

The great thing about having an online store is that even if you are closed or have limited hours for a specific holiday, your website is still working for you, providing information, taking orders and more. So, in that sense you are never really closed.

To make the best decisions about staffing levels and store hours for a given holiday, ask yourself these questions:

What has the store done in the past?

In the past, when you closed early or opened late did you receive any complaints? Did you feel like you missed out on days where people may have been more likely to visit? Could you have closed earlier on certain holidays, saving money and making your staff happier? Reflect on how you’ve handled holiday hours in the past.

What has foot traffic and sales been in past?

Look at your specific sales numbers for specific days in the past. Did your sales increase around any specific times or fall flat during others? Be sure to take into account any specials you offered that may have increased traffic. You can use these sales numbers to tell you the best times to be open.

What staffing is needed to handle the traffic/sales?

Because you want to continue to offer great customer service, you need to have enough staff members around to keep down lines and assist customers with whatever they need. Think about how many cash registers you need running, how many people you need to restock the store and who needs to be available to answer customer questions.

What are your current staffing levels?

Consider whether you have the staff you need to cover any extra holiday hours. Always be sure to check overtime hours and take overtime pay into consideration when determining the costs of staying open on certain days. You may find the staffing costs are far higher than any expect sales that day.

What specials, discounts or promotions are you offering?

Take into account whether you offering specials that could drive extra traffic into your store. You may have more shoppers than normal, especially if your sales end at certain times. People may want to bag a good deal and visit more often on days you offer specials.

What are other stores around you doing?

If your store is located in a shopping center or mall, find out more about how businesses around you are handling the holiday season. You may want to be open when they are because more open stores could mean more foot traffic. You can also find out why they close at the times they do, helping you understand past shopping patterns.

After you answer each of these questions, really taking into account what you have done right and wrong in the past, you will be able to determine what store hours may be best for you this year for each holiday. Choose the hours that give the biggest chance at a big profit and provide staffing that benefits both your customers and your budget.

Holidays can be a wonderful time for retailers. By figuring out how to best spend your holiday hours, you can enjoy make each holiday one to remember.  

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