Gift Shop Plus Summer 2022
2022 Holiday Shopping Season

Set the stage for a successful Q4

Natalie Moon, vice president of operations for Shops by Todd — Occasionally Yours, Gifts for Every Occasion, and a Gift + Stationery 40 Under 40 honoree, talks about her favorite Christmas trends and how her team is preparing for the holiday shopping season. Moon oversees all company operations for three divisions — Jake’s Toggery, Occasionally Yours and Pandora — and two e-commerce sites. Shops by Todd has 350 employees and operates 20 brick-and-mortar locations throughout Ohio and Indiana.

Occasionally Yours has 6 retail locations, the one shown here is the store at Liberty Center.

What trends are you most excited about for Christmas 2022?

Natalie Moon: I am most excited about the focus around “gathering” this holiday season. I think this holiday season we are going to really see consumers focused around buying products to set their homes in the Christmas spirit. In the past few years, we haven’t seen that trend around “gather” as the world was telling us to stay away from each other. I think this year the consumer is going to be planning Christmas parties and get-togethers with family, and is going to want to ensure their homes meet that Christmas spirit. I am excited for the plaid and tartan trends that will return. I love the focus around Christmas red that many manufacturers are producing in their Christmas and holiday items.

This display at the Occasionally Yours Liberty location features products from Mud Pie.

When do you start planning for the season and where do you find inspiration for displays?

NM: We travel to the Atlanta Gift Show in January and July. In July we are focused on holiday planning and start planning out what we want our stores to look like for holiday. As we walk the showroom floors we get ideas of what would look good in our stores and order to support that theme.

When do you begin displaying holiday merchandise?

NM: Each year it seems that Christmas starts earlier and earlier and this is driven by consumer demand. In previous years November 1 kicked off holiday in our stores. Last year, October 1 kicked off holiday in our stores — the consumer demand was requesting Christmas earlier. The world was changing with less and less pandemic restrictions and we were reacting to consumer demand. For 2022 holiday planning, we will likely follow suit in order to comp previous year sales. We will plan buys to support Q4 selling October through December.

How has holiday buying changed for your company in the last two years? How are you approaching it this year considering the supply chain issues?

NM: In the last few years we have had to be very strategic about what we bring into our stores in order to offset the vendors we normally carry that could not deliver products due to supply chain issues. 2021 was one of our best years in business — we continued to replenish based on demand and bring in new brands to support this demand. 2022 has proven to be more challenging and when we really started to experience the most supply chain issues from some of our larger brands. We continue to look for new brands and building depth in what we can get in order to remain profitable.

How are you addressing staffing issues for the holiday season?

NM: Staffing continues to be an issue. We are experiencing a high number of no shows for interviews that have been scheduled; even hiring staff members and then after a few days not returning. This has caused a lot of stress on our team. We hired a full-time recruiter and trainer in 2021 to get ahead of this for 2022. This has proven to be very successful for us. We all thought it was crazy to have a full-time person in this position and it has proven to be necessary in today’s market.

Our focus is heavy in recruiting and speeding up the interview and onboarding process. We do not have time to wait around and do second interviews anymore. We have increased our standards for interviewing and recruiting each month to ensure we do not get in under staffing positions. In our higher volume markets this has been more challenging, but after coming off of Mother’s Day (our second busiest time of the year), we did a good job in most stores supporting the traffic. We will continue to push hiring early and recruiting and interviewing more to be ready for Q4 holiday.

The buying team is already selecting items to buy for the holiday season.

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