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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Holiday Rebound

By Patrick Donston

Store Owner, Absolutely Fish

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How was business this past holiday season for you? I've been talking with livestock suppliers, wholesalers, and manufacturers, and getting mixed responses from dismal to good. I've been told numerous shops are closing down, while few boast successful numbers. If your aquatic numbers were not what you hoped for this season, now is the time to think about next year's holiday season.

If you haven't learned by now, the aquatics industry has been in a decline the past few years. Clientele and aquarium sales are hard to come by. With this in mind, it's hard to come up with a plan in October to bolster your aquatic numbers over the holidays.

Last year (2008), we had a lackluster holiday season. This concerned me and I looked at 2009 for tough numbers, so I decided to start early, initiating a preemptive strike and working toward a better outcome at the end of the year. One thing I wanted to do was let our customers know about holiday specials ahead of time. Thus, we started an e-mail campaign in February. Of course, we used the list during the year, but the focus was to exceed holiday numbers of the year's past.

Another problem we noticed was our customer count was off in 2008 and a large decrease came at the end of the year. So I thought about increasing return visits by offering an incentive. We started our 2009 VIP cards in March. From my own research, I noted fewer aquariums are being purchased regionally and nationally. I figured I would have to reach out more efficiently to "fewer potential clients," so I worked aggressively on a key-word Internet marketing campaign. I also spent some time revisiting our website--changing, polishing and adding to it. I hoped to develop better landing pages, increasing our chances for more prospective buyers. Through numerous meetings, we decided to increase the number of sale days this past year. We thought in a tough economy we needed to go a little farther in helping our customers with their income expenditure.

I have to say, I believe we did all right. We had a very successful 2009 holiday season (it was one of the best ever). We were also pleasantly surprised at the amount of new clients and set-up sales made. I guess I'm grateful for some of the changes we implemented early last year. If you feel your shop is hurting a bit right now and the past holiday season didn't help, now is the time to make changes. Change takes time, miracles don't happen overnight, but you may be grateful in the future for the effort put forth now.

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