Without looking at a single article or listening to a single pundit, I can tell you something for sure:

  • There will be experts that claim we are in a terrible recession and are heading for the worst holiday retail season in years
  • There will be just as many claiming that the economy is in great shape and that we’ll be having the best holiday retail season in years

Who’s right? It doesn’t matter.

You should assume the worst. It’s for the best.

Here’s why: If you knew for 100% certain that this was going to be the worst holiday retail season in years, you’d approach it very differently than if you were expecting money to come rolling in. You’d go into the retail season ready for a uphill climb and make an extra effort to make sure you still managed to make money in a difficult environment.

For instance, you might:

  • Do extra work to make sure you have more inventory than usual available for greater selection.
  • Offer additional sales or special offers to bring in more buyers.
  • Go the extra mile to earn and keep customers with more partial and full refunds, returns and exchanges. 
  • Do an additional marketing push, as well as stunts like contests, promotional extras and more.

If you let yourself believe, even with half a mind, that this retail season is going to be great, the fact is you’ll be, however subconsciously, not trying as hard. You may know that you should be doing all of the above all the time but it’s tempting to sit back and trust the usual flow of customers. After all, that article you read said this retail season was going to be the best yet, right?

But if you prepare for the worst, if you mentally commit to the idea that this holiday season is going to be awful, the extra work you do can work out for the best. If your fears turn out to be right, no harm done, you’ll know you tried your hardest and will have compensated for any decrease in sales. But you may end up finding that your willingness to go the extra mile translated into a season for the record books.