How to avoid the churn and burn of holiday sales and build a sustainable business model

- December 6, 2023 3 MIN READ


While it might be tempting to buy into the hype around sales events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday and Boxing Day, these big-ticket sales can be a detriment to business. Chris Dahl, Co-CEO of Pin Payments, says there are better ways to build a sustainable model that serves both you and your customers.

According to a survey by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and Finder, approximately 40 per cent of small businesses this year offered either minimal or no discounts or skipped Black Friday and Cyber Monday altogether.

This suggests a growing number of small businesses are opting out of frenzied sale periods, which are usually dictated by major retailers, to protect profit margins and embrace a more sustainable approach to business.

So, with the holiday season approaching, how can you avoid the churn and burn of sales cycles and build a loyal brand following?

3 tips to avoid sales churn and burn

Remember, discounts are a double-edged sword

There are many calendar days throughout the year that create an expectation that businesses should provide major discounts, with Christmas, Boxing Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Mother’s/Father’s Day highlighting a few. However, these periods put immense pressure on smaller businesses that do not have the same stock or cash flow required to offer major sales to customers. Whilst small businesses may be concerned that opting out of sales will deter customers, discounts come at an enormous cost for SMBs and can erode profit margins, lead to increased waste, and impact supply chains. Likewise, staff numbers may need to increase during these periods, putting further financial pressures in place. If you do decide to offer a discount, make sure you’ve adequately considered the operational and financial impacts this could have. Alternatively, you might want to consider offering a small discount to reward return customers, not just those who shop with you during sales.

Consider a sustainable approach to peak sales periods

Christmas is one of the more wasteful times, with 275,000 tonnes of waste being produced in Australia alone each year, worth a whopping $921 million. The biggest contributor to waste during the festive period is over-purchasing and unwanted gifts, according to National Storage Australia. A study by Finder also revealed that 10 million unwanted gifts are received in Australia each year which are either donated to charity or thrown away, ending up in landfill. Consumer attitudes towards sustainability are changing and sharing your business’s stance on this will shape your external brand image. Encouraging higher value purchases that are better quality and created with sustainable practices will break the habit of over-purchasing whilst ensuring you don’t deter customers from buying altogether.

Embrace the benefits of a sustainable approach

 Major businesses like Patagonia have shared their views on sustainability and mass consumerism and, in doing so, garnered the respect of many people worldwide, solidifying themselves as a reputable brand. Don’t be afraid to communicate your brand ethos with customers, in fear of losing sales, particularly when it comes to building a sustainable long-term model. If participating in major sales creates stress, there are other ways to build your brand and attract loyal customers. For long-term consumers, you can offer rewards programs, loyalty clubs and exclusive benefits to encourage repeat purchases. Likewise, promote the year-round value your business offers instead of marking items up throughout the year to then slash prices during sales. You could also offer limited seasonal items, which create a sense of exclusivity to boost sales during quieter periods and encourage customer referrals.

Ultimately, there are many ways to build a strong customer base without having to slash prices and put undue pressure on your business. If you’re worried about this, conduct an overview of your sales funnels, marketing channels, promotions, and operations throughout the year, and make a plan for the festive season and 2024, which is more sustainable in the long term.

Resources to help you deliver fair prices and build a sustainable business model

  1. Australian Small Business Advisory Services (ASBAS): The ASBAS program provides free and confidential advice to small businesses on a wide range of topics, including pricing, business planning, and marketing. They offer one-on-one consultations, workshops, and online resources.
  2. The Australian Small Business Financial Guide: This comprehensive guide, developed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), covers all aspects of financial management for small businesses, including pricing, cost control, and cash flow management.
  3. Sustainability Business Guide: If you are a business owner or running an organisation, these tips and tools can help you take action on climate change by making your operations more sustainable. Here are some resources to help


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