Love it or hate it, Christmas will be here before you know it and it's never too early to start planning. Now is the time to search for those exclusive products that will delight your customers, appeal to their impulses and set you apart from your competition.
Accessories are an important holiday category and "giftable" items like casual clothing accessories -- scarves, hats, gloves, socks -- will be big this year. Make sure they're colorful, as bright colors have never been hotter.
Plus, you already have products in your inventory that can be great gifts, if merchandised correctly. Pedometers, GPS units, messenger bags, travel accessories, watches and sunglasses are just a few suggestions. Place small tables throughout the store and use them to create "gift" displays. Enhance them with holiday props -- pinecones, ornaments, holly, pine boughs and pre-wrapped packages. Multiple displays ensure you'll catch the eye of every customer.
To keep the assortments looking fresh, time your holiday deliveries to receive new products every couple of weeks. Move your merchandise around every few days so that it appears you have new stock arriving even more frequently.
I'll be searching out unique accessory items I think you might want to consider carrying for the holidays, so watch this column for new ideas and resources to make the 2003 holiday season a successful one.
Sharon Leicham's merchandising column appears twice a month in SNEWS. Leicham is the author of Merchandising Your Way to Success and How to Sell to Women and is a frequent contributor to trade magazines writing on merchandising and marketing topics. She recently launched a website, www.merchandisingHUB.com, with information targeted at the independent specialty retailer.