Utilizing Traffic for Holiday Staff Planning

by Brian Field on 10-28-15

While many consumers have yet to think about their holiday shopping, retailers have already estimated holiday hiring numbers, projected hours, and begun recruiting efforts.

As retailers are checking items off of their holiday list and new staff members take the floor, it’s key that managers understand how to best leverage the additional support. And how can they do that?

Scheduling according to traffic.

When utilizing traffic for scheduling, especially during the holiday, it’s important to look at historical trends (the peaks and valleys) and focus on the critical dates and times of the holiday season that require top-notch coverage.

In doing this, make sure to account for calendar shifting by matching this years’ key days to similar days last year (not just matching to days of the week). For example, since Christmas Day 2015 falls on a Friday, the next day (Saturday, Dec. 26) will have disproportionate traffic when compared to last year’s corresponding Saturday because the 26th in 2014 fell on a Friday.

Additionally, be sure to eliminate any anomalies from last year’s data when patterning for schedules, such as construction occurrences at a location or a bad weather incident, in order to avoid under-staffing a location that has upside traffic potential.

In regards to major shopping dates during the holiday, you can view our prediction, which will help staff planning, as well.

Retail managers should also avoid scheduling staff solely based upon transaction information because it is highly limited — the information does not accurately depict the key times a shopper needs help on their path-to-purchase in-store, nor is it representative of potential opportunity (those shoppers who left without buying).  For optimal customer service, the goal should be to focus scheduling on the times when customers enter the store; transactions tell you more about when a customer is leaving and can point out cashiering opportunities.

Finally, when scheduling holiday associates, it’s vital to mind an experience level  to traffic balance. Recognize peak areas and then fill in any coverage gaps, but avoid overloading key selling times with only your most experienced associates. Otherwise, your slower hours will be filled exclusively by new associates, causing the level of service and conversion rates to decrease.



Read more posts by Brian Field

Brian Field is the Senior Director of Retail Consulting Practice for ShopperTrak, where he oversees the application of ShopperTrak's proprietary solutions to retailer-specific issues across different functional areas in order to drive top and bottom line store performance. Prior to joining ShopperTrak, Brian served in roles of increasing responsibility at Chico’s FAS Inc., including as the director of corporate store operations and finance. Brian has spent nearly four decades in the industry, and his experience includes: store sales and management, training, merchandising, strategic planning and analysis for brands as diverse as David’s Bridal, Circuit City and Macy's.