How to deal with the post-holiday lull in sales

The first quarter of a new year (Q1 for short) is usually not the busiest for retailers. Especially compared to the mad pre-holiday rush of November-December, the sales numbers from January-February may look somewhat disconcerting.

Since the post-holiday lull is completely normal and even expected, there are various ways retailers can deal with it. Here are the most common retail reactions to declining Q1 sales figures.


One of the most common (and least useful) reactions to unpleasant, alarming sales numbers is panic. You look at the declining numbers and can’t help but see a pattern. December was your last good month, and now everything’s declining and you can’t figure out what you’re doing wrong.

If you find yourself panicking, take a few deep breaths. It’s true that January is more meager than December was, but as we said earlier, it’s completely normal. For the whole retail industry, not just your business.

Panic is not helpful when it comes to thinking of a countermeasure. Before you come up with a way to reverse your numbers, make sure you’re calm and thinking clearly. Rushed, half-baked ideas born out of panic usually do more harm than good and will make you look desperate.

Let it resolve itself

Perhaps you’re not the panicking type. Or perhaps you’ve already been though several post-holiday lulls to know that it’s natural, temporary, and will go away on its own.

If you’re confident your sales numbers will climb back up without any significant action from your part, you can simply ride it out. You may take this time to reorganize your shelves, evaluate your business’ last year performance, or examine how well your business partnerships are doing.

These reflections are very important in the long-term, and it’s lucky the retail calendar provides a couple of weeks of relative quiet for business owners to think, evaluate, and form plans for the year ahead.

These reflections are very important in the long-term, and it’s lucky the retail calendar provides a couple of weeks of relative quiet for business owners to think, evaluate, and form plans for the year ahead.

Take a vacation

Of course, you may want to stop thinking about your business altogether (after the stress of the holiday rush, nobody can blame you). If you feel that during the post-holiday lull your employees can manage without you, take a few days off to blow off steam.

Spend time with your family at home, or go on that long overdue holiday. These few weeks are perfect to straighten out your work-life balance and slip in some fun during the long and cold winter months.

Do something about it

Maybe taking it easy isn’t an option for you, or you don’t have the time to wait around for the sales situation to pick up on its own.

In that case, there are several steps you can take to overcome the post-holiday lull in sales.

Reach out to customers

Remember all those holiday shoppers from a month ago? They’re still out there and you can pull them back into your store.

For example, you can reach out to customers with a follow-up email, send them a survey, or offer them a special deal on complementary products. The main thing is, put your store back into the forefront of their minds. Give them a reason to think about you.


One of the best ways to get those sales numbers soaring is with a promotion. People love good deals, and customers will start flocking to your business once again if they feel the pull of a discount.

Don’t just post a large “SALES” sticker in your window. Think of an occasion and weave a story around your promotion. For example, you declare the day after tomorrow “Customer Appreciation Day” and hand out a free product with all purchases. Or, to celebrate the middle of winter, you give 10% off waterproof outerwear.

Anything is a good occasion for a promotion. Get creative and make people stop by your store.


Whichever approach you choose, remind yourself that the post-holiday sales lull is a normal occurrence. There’s no need to worry about it. Sales will pick up as soon as the next important holiday hits on the retail calendar.




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