Melbourne Cup kicks off important sales season for small businesses

- November 7, 2023 3 MIN READ


As the weather heats up and the end of the year approaches, small and medium-sized enterprises  across the country gear up for a season that is pivotal to their success—the November sales season. It’s a make-or-break period that can help define the financial success of the entire year, and also holds immense importance for the broader economy, writes Emma Fawcett, General Manager – SME, MYOB.

Kicking off with the Melbourne Cup and ending with Black Friday sales, November has previously been an important month for businesses, particularly in the retail, hospitality and tourism sectors. Recent MYOB research of over 1,000 consumers shows ​62% shopped in Black Friday sales last year. Fifty-one per cent say they have already started their Christmas shopping or plan to start it earlier this year than last year.

So, given the significance of this month for small businesses, what are the key shopping moments small businesses should prepare for and how can they make the most of them?

  • Melbourne Cup: An unofficial four-day weekend for many Victorians, in 2022 the first weekend in November saw a 20% spike in EFT and cash deposits for small businesses nationally. Small businesses in the hospitality sector can make the most of the national sporting event by showing the race on big screens, offering lunch and drinks specials, and creating a winning atmosphere.
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday: The undeniable heavyweights of the sales season. With consumers eagerly awaiting these annual shopping extravaganzas, small businesses have the opportunity to compete with big-box retailers. They can stand out by offering special deals or a personalised shopping experience, attracting consumers looking for local alternatives to the corporate giants.
  • Holiday gift shopping: November marks the start of the holiday gift-buying frenzy. Small businesses can leverage this by curating unique, handcrafted, and locally-sourced gifts that larger corporations can’t provide. People often seek meaningful and thoughtful gifts during the holidays, which SMEs can deliver.

How can small businesses harness these moments?

  • Online shopping trends: The rise of e-commerce has been particularly advantageous for SMEs during the sales season, allowing small businesses to extend their reach beyond local customers, reaching a broader audience.
  • Customer engagement and loyalty: November is the ideal time to strengthen customer relationships and foster loyalty. Offering exclusive promotions and stellar customer service can turn one-time shoppers into loyal patrons.
  • Business preparedness: Successful sales seasons require planning. SMEs should take advantage of the months leading up to November to stock up on inventory, optimise their online presence, and fine-tune their marketing strategies. Adequate preparation can make all the difference in capitalising on the season’s opportunities.
  • Boosting cash flow: A strong November can significantly improve a business’s cash flow. This extra cash can help SMEs invest in expansion, new products, or marketing initiatives. It can also serve as a financial cushion for leaner times.

Despite the opportunities that November presents, SMEs also face challenges. Competition from larger corporations, the pressure to meet customer demands, increasing cost of living concerns and the need to balance work-life commitments can be overwhelming. Australian small and medium businesses once again need to draw on their resilience to overcome these obstacles.

Small businesses can embrace innovation and creativity in their marketing strategies. This may include harnessing the power of social media, offering product bundles, or hosting special events that engage the community. Emphasising the personal touch that small business owners can provide will set them apart from big retailers.

Additionally, ensuring a well-functioning online presence is non-negotiable. The importance of e-commerce will only increase, and small businesses that aren’t present online may miss out on a significant chunk of their potential customer base.

The November sales season holds great promise for businesses. As they continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape of business, their adaptability, resilience, and customer-centric approach can make them formidable competitors.

Support from the local community is also essential. As consumers, we can play our part in ensuring the success of small businesses by shopping locally, spreading the word, and showing our appreciation for the unique products and services they offer. Small businesses are the backbone of our communities, and by supporting them, we help build strong, vibrant local economies.

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