Although it may seem very strange, considering we have just finished one of the hottest Junes on record in the UK, anyone working in the retail craft industry will be already thinking quite seriously about Christmas. Businesses that have craft stores online will already be looking to advertise products that could be used as Christmas decorations, table ornaments, gifts for loved ones and, of course, a comprehensive range of Christmas-themed cards. It can be difficult to get into the mindset of what you are going to feature as a Christmas range in the middle of summer, but this is the standard time for retailers to be finalising their ranges for this period. In fact, most will have been working on the basis of being a year ahead with their planning, focusing on a strongly themed seasonal approach to the production and selling patterns.
For the average crafter who is looking to get into the field of selling their products, Christmas can seem like a daunting prospect. Admittedly, it may feel like you are straying away from your original intentions of turning your hobby into a business. However, you cannot ever discount the selling periods of Christmas and Easter. For many retailers, Christmas in particular is the one period of time where they can make their best profits and continue to operate as a business. Whilst this can be a stressful time for a crafting professional, it can also be an incredibly rewarding time seeing your items being sold for gifts.
There may not be the same pressures to decorate areas of a store for those operating in the online space, but it’s still necessary to think about how you are going to present your products for the festival season. There is one distinct advantage, in that if you are selling online you can have a section on your website devoted to Christmas products all year round. This makes it essentially the choice of the person visiting the website whether they wish to peruse and browse the products available for Christmas. For those who are heading out into craft fairs and market stalls then Christmas creation needs to be an activity that you are focusing on right now.
For example, if you look at heritage organisations such as the National Trust or English Heritage you will see that they will already have begun placing out their Christmas card ranges at the start of the summer and, if not, certainly by mid-August. It does seem unusual to see these kinds of products being available in the height of summer, especially when there is a heatwave! There is a certain logic to why they do this which might be something that you will want to apply to your own business. In fact, the reason the National Trust and English Heritage have such a wide Christmas range available during the summer months is that most of their shops and sites close after the October half term. Although this is changing and more and more of them are opening for longer, many are bound by restrictions and covenants that mean they must close at a certain time to ensure the conservation of the property. Therefore, the retail manager must take into consideration these special conditions for opening. So, if they have no customers from November through to March how are they going to sell their Christmas lines?
This is a principle that you may be considering yourself. Are you sure that you want to be working over the winter months attending craft fairs and such like? It’s one of the reasons you may want to consider taking your products into the virtual buying world and get craft stores online. This enables the customer to come to you rather than you having to go to them at outdoor events. It may be that you enjoy the interaction that you get with your customers, and there is certainly a lot to be said for this as people do tend to buy from people. However, many crafters have taken up this field of work so that they can avoid the nine to five grind! Also, many crafters use the winter months to work on new projects and produce new ranges and new items for sale at a future date. It’s pretty fair to say that the crafting industry is a very seasonal operation, and you have to decide what you are going to get out of it.
Preparing your head for the Christmas months is essential. Have a range laid out in your mind as to what you are going to sell and begin preparing and making them well in advance of October. You can launch a teaser campaign in your marketing to give people an idea of the items that are going to be available for Christmas. Some craft stores online will also offer pre-ordering so that you can start making items, ready for customers. This will also help to give you an indication of how many products you need to make and shouldn’t leave you with too much surplus that you’ll have to sell in the New Year. Most consumers are already looking to buy Christmas presents rather than have a tremendous rush over November and December and the crafter can take advantage to this.
There is a very strong argument for retailers and craft producers to be at least 12 to 8 months ahead of themselves in what they are producing and planning to sell. While you may not be able to plan ahead as far as some of the major retailers are, you can be sure that they are already planning out Christmas ranges for 2025 as we speak!
Everything else aside, planning 3-6 months ahead for Christmas gets us in the Christmas mood! Let the Grinches say what they want, there’s nothing like Christmas and crafters can play a key role providing unique, personal gifts to enhance this most wonderful time of the year!