Small businesses race to prepare ahead of Melbourne Cup

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New data released by Xero shows that ‘the race that stops a nation’ means very hard work in the lead up for Australian small business owners.

Transactional data from businesses during the 2015 Melbourne Cup showed that the majority of small businesses work far harder during the morning of race day, presumably because they plan to take the afternoon off. In total last year, those businesses processed an incredible $2.4 billion the morning of the race, up an average $400 million from the same period two weeks before and after the Melbourne Cup.

However, productivity in the afternoon fell dramatically to $1.4 billion, a full $1 billion less garnered by Australian small businesses compared to the morning.

“The Melbourne Cup is a fantastic day in the Australian calendar. Small business owners, like everyone else, want to be part of the fun, but our data shows just how hard they have to work in order to account for the loss of productivity from one afternoon,” said Trent Innes, Managing Director of Xero Australia.

While afternoons are often quieter periods for most small businesses, the drop in activity during the afternoon of the Melbourne Cup day is far greater than the norm. The average afternoon sees around $400 million less changing hands, and this drop more than doubles on race day.

However, Trent said the ‘race that stops a nation’ does not put a halt on the hospitality industry, which is a key beneficiary of the frenetic race day.

“Many of our small business customers in Melbourne tell us they are extending their operating hours, increasing staff or offering a Cup special in order to bring in the customers.”

Dean Jones, co-founder & CEO of dress-hiring business GlamCorner, sees a massive uptake of women hiring dresses for the big day and uses data to ensure his business has enough stock, staff and style.

1-deanaudrey_glamcorner-com-au-colourMelbourne-based bar and restaurant Left Bank sees the Melbourne Cup as a key date in its diary. In order to plan efficiently and make the most of the additional footfall brought by the Cup (75,000 out of towners graced Victoria’s capital for the 2015 race), manager Joel Gray analyses sales data and figures to forecast how and when to expect rushes in demand.

“Using cloud accounting software like Xero to plan for peak periods, such as Melbourne Cup and other major events is a critical part of our business. Data helps us to better understand the hourly trends of the venue, which in turn helps us to accurately forecast the necessary labour and keep related costs to a minimum. This system helps us to keep costs down across the venues opening hours. Every operator’s dream!”, said Gray.

Trent said that the way small businesses plan for Melbourne Cup isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.

“For some, working the whole day will provide a business boost while for others, it makes sense to commit resources to the morning and take the afternoon off. That’s where access to data helps empower businesses to make informed decisions. Additionally, new technology is allowing businesses to stay connected when they are out of the office, providing more flexibility to enjoy a day at the races.”

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