The December quarter is usually the largest quarter of economic activity in Australia as activity across many industries peak during Christmas, such as retailers, accommodation, and wholesalers.
On the other hand, the industries that typically slow down during Christmas time are manufacturing, agriculture, education, and real estate.
Christmas time can be challenging for small businesses that continue to trade as they must sacrifice their time to work extended hours or risk having limited cash flow. About three-quarters of businesses struggle with low season demand for products and services, supplier disruption, and staff absences. The struggle of inconsistent cash flow can even extend to January and February due to slow trading periods.
Common issues include:
Leave and closures
- It is important for businesses to forecast seasonal inventory increases, staff leave payments and possible decreases in sales
- Clear out old stock – sell items at a discounted price
- Although COVID has been receding, its effect on supply chains is still ongoing. Businesses will need to budget and carefully consider their cash outflow to ensure they have enough to sustain themselves should other issues arise
Too many expenses
- Christmas is when many of us spend money on large quantities of food, presents and vacation/travel, quickly increasing our expenses. Christmas can leave households under financial stress well into the new year after all the big spending during the festive season
Most business owners start to feel the strain before the Christmas week, so it is best to plan before December comes around to ensure that you are prepared.
Some solutions which may help alleviate stress include:
- Issue invoices immediately
- Offer different payment options – SmartFee (Buy Now Pay Later), cash, cards, etc.
- Chase up unpaid invoices. As a creditor in Australia, you can pursue debts up to 6 years old (except Northern Territory = 3 years). Although this is a lot of time, it is still crucial for you to receive payment for your services in order to maintain a healthy cash flow
- During the Christmas period, consider asking your customers to pay a deposit
- Negotiate with your creditors and suppliers to extend your terms during this time if possible
- Pay your invoice on time
- If you do end up struggling to pay on time. Talk to your creditors and ask for their help
Stock and supply
- Don’t lock up your cash with excess stock and supplies
- Plan in advance. Look back on your sales and stock levels from Christmas and adjust
- Get rid of any slow-moving stock or dead stock by having a big sale, using them as giveaways or turning them into hampers
- Minimise expenses where possible
- Examine the previous year’s records to help you forecast costs and inventory levels
At SmartFee we understand that the Christmas period can be busy and stressful for small businesses. Having a solid plan in place for how to approach the silly season will help you manage your costs and stress levels, hopefully allowing your business to reap the rewards of the holiday season.
SmartFee can help you pay invoices from your accountant or lawyer in manageable monthly instalments, providing a predictable and cost-effective way to manage bills from your most trusted advisors. To get started, call us on 1300 723 243 or email firstname.lastname@example.org