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BLOGLessons from Retail

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Learning, Make It Happen Tipsheet, PlanningTagged as: ,

Why is it that retailers have back-to-school sales starting in August?

They know that clothing purchases are made 3-4 weeks immediately before the first day of school. (They also know that few customers will purchase clothing a mere day or two beforehand.) Stores make their buying decisions months in advance. Manufacturers make their products even earlier.

After the school selling season is done – maybe a week or two after school starts – the retailer will stock the next season’s apparel and the “old” stock is often sold at a loss.

Surprisingly, there is a lot that we can learn from retailers. For example:

  • There is a shelf-life for opportunity. If the window of opportunity is missed, then it cannot be resurrected.
  • Just as a retailer’s purchases may not sell well, there is a certain risk that our training might not meet the market requirements – which is why we must continuously invest in our expertise.
  • Learn from our mistakes. Just because we weren’t the right “merchandise” for a particular opportunity, doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ones where we are just what the customer wants.
  • Like the retailer’s different buying seasons, there are professional and work-life balance activities that should happen at different times of the year – and can be calendarized.


Not everyone thinks like a retailer – or feels comfortable drawing lessons from them. But it is a great example of how we can learn from just about every organization – or person – we come in contact with. This week, choose an organization – or a person – and write down their lessons for you.

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