For business owners, choosing hours of operation can be a difficult proposition. While some retail establishments, such as ones located in a mall or another shopping center, have their hours of operation dictated by the shopping center, for others choosing business hours requires careful thought and consideration.
Keeping odd or irregular hours is one of the best ways to lose business, but there’s no point in staying open 24 hours a day if the store won’t make a profit during the overnight hours. If you stay open late, are you gaining customers who are unable to shop during typical business hours, or are you losing valuable resources by paying employees during hours that will not gain the company profit? Should you choose to close on Mondays rather than Sundays? Should you not close at all? Here are some tips for deciding on retail store hours.
- Consider your target customer’s schedule. If your target customers are stay-at-home moms, most likely they’ll do most of their shopping during the day on weekdays. In the evenings, they’ll be busy with dinners and bath times, and on the weekends they’ll want to relax with their families — so your best bet is to stay open during normal working hours, such as 8-to-5 or 9-to-6. On the other hand, if your target market is busy working professionals, you may prefer to open late in the day but stay open late, and remain open for long hours on the weekends.
- Look to your neighbors. If you’re located in a bustling retail area, you can bet that your fellow retailers have already thought long and hard about what hours to be open. If nearby stores are open until 9 pm, you’d probably benefit from staying open until 9 pm as well, when customers visiting nearby shops might wander in on a whim. On the other hand, there’s no point in staying open until 9 pm if your neighbors close at 6 pm, as the area will probably be deserted, and you’ll have to rely on customers coming in specifically because they sought you out.
- Look to your competitors. If other stores that sell what you sell are open when you’re closed, chances are your customers will go elsewhere. Given that similar retailers already know their target market well, it’s likely they’ve done research that will save you time. Just follow their lead on what hours to be open. On the other hand, if your business often gets missed calls during the hours that you and your competitors are closed, maybe you should start staying open later to pick up their slack — and their customers.
- Track how much you sell each hour you’re open. If you track your sales and analyze them carefully, you may discover some surprising trends. For example, maybe you currently stay open until 11 pm, but have noticed that fewer customers come in after 9 pm and are considering shortening your hours to close at 9 pm.
By tracking the number of customers who come into the store and the total revenue earned each hour, you may notice that although there are fewer customers in the last two hours of the day, their average spending is much higher than earlier in the day.
In this example, it may be worthwhile to remain open until 11 pm after all. This is also a great way to determine which day or days of the week you should close. Traditionally, retail stores close on Sundays, but many are shifting to a Monday or Tuesday close. On the other hand, if you notice that you have many customers on the weekends but most are only looking around rather than making purchases, you might consider closing on Sundays.
About the Author: Valerie Cecil is a research coordinator, marketing specialist and writer for Outbounding.com. Her work allows her to investigate many topics, ranging from online consumer relations to effective communication in the workplace. When she is not working, she enjoys kayaking, watercolor, and scouting out the cutest Gift Boxes from Retail Packaging she can find.