The pitfalls of Christmas time

OMG, is it January 23rd already? Wow, have I learned some lessons over the Christmas period. Statistically, up to 30% of annual retail income comes in the Christmas period, and that can rise to 70% for some traders – well it didn’t work for me this year but it was very hard work all the same. So, whatever you buy, sell, make or, in our case, rescue, reuse or recycle, here are my tips for the Christmas period – reading between the lines you will see the blood, sweat and tears.


  • Button Christmas tree decorations

    There are more opportunities to sell during mid-November and December than you can possibly get to;

  • Yes, people do buy more around Christmas than at any other time of the year;
  • You are very likely to get a cold or the flu (I recommend vaccination) – especially if you sell outdoors;
  • You will have absolutely no time for making or even cleaning things to take to market…

So, it’s all about time.

  1. Sort out your stall decorations box well before December. Go all out to look seasonal!
  2. Make and prepare Christmas-themed items from January to September – don’t plan to make anything during the Christmas period – you won’t have time!
  3. In January, in fact all year round, keep your eyes open for Christmas-themed items you could use next season. Lots of 1960s Christmas tins and 1940s decorations can be found very cheaply in July.
  4. Don’t overbook yourself – not turning up to an event is a heinous crime but so is doing too much and not enjoying the season. Being too tired to smile won’t win you sales.
  5. Is that an upcycled bra?

    Banish the grump – make shopping fun! A bad sales day never got better because you were looking grumpy. Have a chat ready so you can talk about your products: “I made that decoration from an old bra of mine, but don’t tell anyone!”; “I’ve got hundreds of buttons at home – I just had to use them…”; “I remember these from my childhood…”; “This would make a brilliant plate for stolen”; etc. I never sold the ex-bra decoration – I can’t imagine why! But people laughed and bought other things from my stall. Suggest good present ideas: we had some 1920s and 1950s cloth maps – “They make brilliant Christmas presents for family overseas because you can post them easily” …happily we sold out.

  6. If you blog, have some pre-written ones in hand, as there won’t be time to write new ones, as I found out.
  7. Many markets take bookings in the summer for one-off Christmas events. If you’re starting out, spend one year going to all the markets you can and identify which ones are likely to be good for you. Prices of stalls go up around Christmas, so choose wisely.
  8. Something for posting to distant friends?

    Do all your own shopping in the summer and have presents wrapped and sorted by November – you’ll be saving money as prices go up at Christmas. You’ll also be putting your own prices up just as others will – so avoid buying at this time of year. Anyway, you won’t have time!

  9. Pack easy-to-eat food to take with you to events and a flask of coffee – you should be expecting a rush of customers and then not having time to eat!
  10. People give gifts of money at Christmas, so the New Year isn’t necessarily a bad time for selling either.

So, I’m starting right now for Christmas 2018!

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