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What Hours Should My Retail Store Be Open?

When it comes to selecting when to be open, retailers need to balance potential sales against the cost of having the store open. Retailers want to be open when they can make a profit and closed when their costs are going to exceed their income. There is no way to predict what hours will be your best, but after a few weeks of being open and with some clever information gathering, you can use customer data to determine just what your best hours are. Here are a few tips on how to determine when you should be open and when you should be closed.

  1. Point of Sale (POS)

Modern computers and POS systems have made it a trivial matter to determine when your store is making the most money. You can track sales and determine not only when your store should be open, but, also how many employees you need to have working at a given time. It may be the case that certain hours are profitable, but only if you cut back on the number of employees working at those times.

  1. Ask the Customer

There is nothing wrong with asking customers when they would like to shop. A simple survey that you hand out at the door or at the checkout can give you loads of information about when customers want to shop. These types of surveys are especially helpful for setting weekend and holiday hours. If you don't have a customer email list, set one up so that you can keep customers up to date about changes in your hours and so that you can send out surveys.

  1. Experiment

If you don't have POS records for some reason (new store, new hours, etc.), then you may want to experiment with being open at different times to see what you can learn. If you do decide to do this, make sure you alert customers to the changes in your hours. After all, customers who want to shop won't be able to do so if they don't know that your store is open.

  1. Custom Hours

Many small stores are only open a limited number of hours each week, but will open their store upon special request. Work out a policy that suits your schedule and then let customers know how and when they can reach you. This approach allows you to minimize costs and maximize profits. Note that this approach won't work for everyone. If your store is isolated and customers can't do other things while they wait for you, then having custom hours may not help much.

  1. Be Consistent and Convenient

Your hours need to be consistent and your schedule needs to be simple. Customers are not going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out a convoluted schedule and they certainly won't be happy if you aren't open when you say you will be. Customers are interested in convenience above all else, so make your hours and schedule as convenient as possible.

Getting Your Hours Right

Getting your hours right may take a little bit of time, but remember that you are probably better off starting with too many open hours than with too few. It is easier to let existing customers know that you are cutting back on hours than it is to go in search of customers who don't know that you are going to be open later. Remember that it is all about convenience, so make life as easy on the customer as possible.