Dealing With Summer Sales Slow Down

As the weather warms up after a long winter, consumers are logging off their computers and taking off to beach vacations, backyard barbecues and hiking...

As the weather warms up after a long winter, consumers are logging off their computers and taking off to beach vacations, backyard barbecues and hiking excursions. But your business can’t close for the summer — so how do you cope with the traditional slowdown in sales activity without pulling out your hair in frustration?  We have some ideas for you!

Summer Doldrums

Most companies experience a traditional decrease in sales during the summer months and are at a loss to explain what is happening.  Fear not — a seasonal decrease is normal in the digital ecommerce industry due to most of the northern hemisphere taking vacations throughout the summer. People just aren’t in their homes (and on their computers) as much.  If your annual sales charts resemble any of the following, you are experiencing the typical summer sales doldrum:

Typical Annual Sales Chart
Example 1: Annual Sales Cycle
Typical Annual Monthly Sales Chart
Example 2: Annual Sales Cycle

Obviously, the southern hemisphere is in their winter season when the northern hemisphere is in summer, so you can’t just shut down your ecommerce activities. So what can you do about this expected seasonal decline?

What to do during the off-season

First of all, think about how many people are not at their desks, are thinking about their vacations or have other expenses during the summer (as compared to the winter when many folks are bundled up inside for months).  Not only are consumers less available during the summer, but they are less willing to spend money on unnecessary items. So sending an additional email campaign to your existing customers isn’t really the right thing to do. Nor is it advisable to keep dropping prices in “specials” in order to generate additional sales to maintain an artificial sales volume. Accept that there is seasonality, and plan accordingly. Additional situations that affect sales are:

  • New product release – decline in sales activities before new product is released and substantial increase after new product is released
  • Price change – increase as price decreases, but could be temporary if product is nearing end of product life-cycle
  • Market changes – competitors appear with similar products, likely to result in lower sales

Knowing that there are many things that affect your sales, in addition to the season, plan ahead to take advantage of the season. Some ideas include:

  • Use summer to work with beta testers – take this off time to dig deeper to find out what your customers want in your product.
  • Prepare for fall/winter product release cycles – develop additional features that were on hold while you focused on sales.
  • Grow relationships with your partners to remain on the minds of your customers – enhance your channel relationships to increase future sales.
  • Don’t discount your own product to generate business, unless it’s an end of product cycle – Your customers should already receive sufficient marketing emails from you.  Don’t pile more on top trying to chase a few additional dollars.  It could do more harm than good!
  • Target mobile devices for communications – If you are doing your normal email marketing, try a different target device to see if that works.
  • Take a well-earned vacation too – If everyone else is doing it, why shouldn’t you recharge the batteries a bit?

Be confident

It takes a confident person to admit that there is seasonality and to believe that the sales will return without additional effort.  Look at your own sales figures on a monthly basis for each of the last few years to confirm this and then use the off-season to recharge your business for the coming return of your customers in autumn.

Keystone

Each summer you’ll experience a naturally occurring decline in sales.  Don’t waste energy trying to maintain sales levels from the spring.  Instead, plan for the following autumn and winter.

What are some of the tasks that you plan for and complete during the summer off-season?  Have you found any successful strategies for selling in summer?

4 Comments

  1. Lynn

    After reading this article I reviewed my earnings for the last few years and sure enough there is slump during the months of June – early September. I was truly “pulling my hair out” especially with the whole Google Panda thing. Now I’m going to just focus my energy on the increasing earnings for September -March. This was just the boost I needed. Thanks!

  2. Gary

    Yes, I agree with the article, my sales have dropped significantly after the first week of JULY 2012. Since this article was written in 2011, I’m sure more people began experiencing financial problems due to debts and higher cost of living (rising food prices, etc.), so adding the fact that school’s out for kids, and families are spending extra on vacations now in addition to not being at home much… it makes perfect sense for sales to drop… even I find myself getting lazy in the hot months and taking it easy.

    1. Elan Sherbill

      Gary, thanks for the comment. The summer sales slowdown may be upsetting for some, but as you note, it makes sense and is normal.

      Our recommendation is not to chase the sales volume you see in other seasons, but to refocus your activities to make your best-selling seasons even better.

      All the best!

  3. Michael

    Every summer it’s the same thing. All sales decline in all aspects of sales including Online and Offline. People are just out enjoying the Summer heat. As well they should. No one should be stuck in their house on a beautiful day!

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