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I remember the first time I saw Christmas decorations in Walmart before Halloween. I was annoyed and bewildered. Can’t we get through one holiday before we market the next?

The truth is that Christmas is such an important season for retailers, everyone tries to capitalize on it earlier and earlier. Are you thinking about Christmas yet?

According to the statistics site, statista.com, Christmas is a $655 billion retail season. The average U.S. consumer spends approximately $752 on gifts. If you are not thinking about Christmas, you should.

Regardless of the business, Christmas marketing makes sense. Aside from retail, service industries can capitalize on the good cheer of the season. Happy people make great customers.

What should businesses be doing this last week of August in preparation for Christmas?

Order holiday goods. If you don’t have your holiday inventory planned, now is the time to get it done and ordered. By the time Black Friday arrives, people have all but decided what they will purchase this year.

Advertise. Advertise. Advertise. There is no point in the year where people are ready to spend money quite like the holiday season. In addition, advertisements become “news” to consumers. Many a Thanksgiving table becomes “Black Friday Central” with circulars spread out as everyone makes their shopping plans. Local businesses would do well to follow suit, before and after Black Friday.

Train your people. With increased activity comes the need for greater customer service. Be sure customers see a friendly face and are treated like the “economic engines” they are.

Decorate. This sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be amazed at the number of businesses (especially outside of retail) that just don’t decorate at all for the holidays. This creates a negative consumer experience. They think you don’t care.

Stay open. We are all busy, especially during the holidays. There are hosts of parties, school programs, and other things that vie for our time. Staying open later helps those with little time be able to shop with you. Of course, you have to let them know you are open late too.

Follow these tips and I’m sure the 2017 holiday season will be a prosperous one for you.