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Holiday Hours: To Open or To Close?

Most Americans take for granted that they’re off (and often paid to be off) during federal holidays. Still, more Americans enjoy time away from work on other non-federal, but widely celebrated holidays without batting an eye.

But for a large number of workers, being off on a day like Thanksgiving or Christmas is a privilege they have only enjoyed maybe a few times in their entire careers.

Doctors, nurses, police, fire and other medical and emergency personnel all are required to work holidays; as well as #employees at less essential - but necessary industries - like media (reporters, anchors, etc.), gas station attendants, hospitality, and restaurant industries. All the Black Friday sales you enjoy are made possible by millions of retail workers throwing on their uniform and heading to work.

While no one wants to be a Grinch and steal holidays from employees, you, as a #smallbusiness owner, might find yourself within an industry that encourages you to keep the lights on and the doors open on days you’d rather be wearing Christmas pajamas. Before you write your holiday plans on your calendar in pen, here’s what you might want to consider before deciding to stay open or to close up shop.

Your competition.

  • Broadly speaking, in your area, were #businesses in your industry or similar industries open? If most of them were, then it stands to reason that your clientele would expect you to be open as well. If most businesses similar to yours were closed, you could consider being open to create a bit of a competitive advantage and perhaps steal away a client/customer.

  • Conversely, if most #businesses similar to yours were closed, it stands to reason there might be a reason for that. Perhaps your #industry is one that just doesn’t generate much revenue on holidays. Which leads to our next consideration...

Your personal history.

  • If you had been open in years past on a particular holiday, did you earn #money? Did you earn enough to justify the cost of being open? Also, if you had not been open, did it negatively impact your business? Did you notice a decline in business that you might be able to trace back to a day of inactivity?

  • Do you need staffing? Giving employees time off for the holidays can do a lot for morale. If you feel it’s best for you to be open and you need employees to work as well, consider offering some sort of #incentive. While there are no laws requiring employers to pay employees extra or provide bonuses for working holidays, finding a few extra dollars in your budget to reward an #employee could end up getting you a few volunteers. You could also require that all employees work on holidays, but allow them the ability to choose which they’d like to work. Many retailers that need employees to work on #holidays will create shortened shifts for special days. This way, while more people do end up working, no one ends up working a full day.

Regardless of what you choose for your business, be careful to weigh your options. While a lot of major retailers stay open on holidays, they also have #budgets large enough to eat any potential loss for opening doors and paying staff to work on a day they might not generate revenue. They also have the hiring power to turn staff over if certain employees jump ship to jobs that offer time off for holidays, and the ability to hire and train seasonal employees to fill any gaps. Does your business have that flexibility?

On the flip-side, being too lenient on holidays and shutting the doors could end up costing you business that was ripe for the taking. It’s up to you to decide what is best for you, based on your business and your direct competition.

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