Tis the Season!

Bob Kohl, Long & McQuade

It barely seems like we have had two beats rest to recover from September’s Back to School selling storm and now we must regroup and rally to prepare for the exciting and action-packed season of the Christmas Rush!  This short pause in October and early November is the perfect time to reimagine and re-merchandise the print music department to prepare for the next wave of seasonal sales.

Many of us have already been selling education-based Christmas titles for bands, choirs, and piano students through September and October, but the sales volume of those kinds of products typically subsides by mid-November.  After all, there are only six or seven weeks of music lessons to go until the winter concert and recital period begins.  Conversely, Christmas titles for PVG, easy piano, guitar, and folk instruments are just getting started and will peak in December.  These are important factors to keep in mind as we make decisions about which Christmas titles we reorder and what quantities may sell before the season truly ends in mid-December.

Since Halloween is upon us, this is the perfect opportunity to dig up any dead and dormant print music stock in our inventory and move it to the clearance area.  Although this is not the most pleasant task, it is vitally important that we identify and move out any stock that has not performed so that we can keep our browser bins and sales racks filled with current and saleable titles.  Having too much dead stock in our inventory can impede the sales of active stock by taking up too much space and making our selection look dated and stale.  This time of the year is ideal to beef up the clearance area because very soon Christmas shoppers will be upon us looking for great bargains.  The increased foot traffic over the Christmas selling season gives those clearance titles the best chance to be browsed by the largest number of customers.

Looking ahead to January, the next school term will be here before we know it and so now is the time to prepare for second-semester sales.  Our stock of methods and core repertoire have been majorly depleted by the September sales blast and now is the ideal period to assess what we have left and forecast what stock we will need for when students go back to class in the New Year.  Most suppliers offer winter stock order opportunities with perks like increased discounts and extended dating.  These special offers give retailers the incentive to prepare for the next selling season and pick up a few extra profit points along the way.

Finally, remember to keep the momentum going from your fall workshop and reading session promotions.  January will be another great chance to shine a light on the new titles that we introduced to teachers during this fall season.  Look for creative ways to re-merchandise and re-promote the titles that we recently featured.  As one of my favorite music professors used to tell me in university, “reinforcement is the key to education”.  This pearl of wisdom applies to retail sales as well.  The more times we can show our featured titles to our teacher customers, the better chance they will remember them and give them a try.  Also, keep track of any upcoming return privilege deadlines for promoted titles.  When our publisher partners offer retailers the opportunity to send back excess inventory after our promotions are over, we owe them the courtesy of getting this done on time.

I hope that all of you are having a very successful fall selling season and I wish you a very happy, healthy and profitable New Year!