Three or four months of frenzy followed by eight or nine months of inactivity - how do seasonal businesses even out the peaks and troughs?
Christmas happens every year. And though it is a time of unusual stress for most people, with shopping and who is coming to dinner, we might spare a thought for those for whom the Christmas period means survival itself - commercially, that is - for the rest of the year. They are the purveyors of hampers, chocolate selections, decorations, diaries and toys, who are in a frenzy of activity. If anything goes wrong - if deliveries are not met or the computer system goes down, it can spell disaster for the whole of the year. At the other end of the cycle, meanwhile, for companies in fertilisers, say, or ice-lollies or lawn mowers, this is seriously off-season time. There are few, if any, sales and the key is to keep costs to a minimum and to start preparing for the summer season.