April can be a momentum killer for business in Australia
April 2017 was a challenging month for many small businesses. So many business owners I have spoken with did not realise, until it was upon them, that they had to navigate 3 short weeks and the uncertainties created by almost 3 weeks of school holidays. This was due to public holidays for Easter and then ANZAC Day falling in consecutive weeks this year. With ANZAC on a Tuesday many staff asked for an extra long weekend as well.
This contributed to some businesses having a very slow trading month this April. They lost most of the momentum gained from working hard in February and March. How frustrating!! For many this means that there is strong leadership required to boost business activity in May and June. This creates the feeling of always being behind the game. This is not ideal as we move into the period from May until December which is usually the best period for small businesses to maximise their profit for the year.
Implications of Easter dates changing every year
Many people do not know that the dates for Easter vary each year based on a fairly complicated system related to the lunar calendar. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or soonest after 21 March, but calculations vary. This means that Easter Sunday can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25. Then we have the education departments of our wonderful Federation setting their school holidays in a dance around the Easter dates. So school holidays in April can vary each year as well as from state to state. ANZAC Day is fixed on April 25th and is a National Holiday which is more predictable. Some years it works in well with the others, and other years, like 2017, it created a third short week.
The advantages of investing time in business planning
One business owner I spoke with has realised that April requires a similar approach to the December/January holiday period. She factors in a marketing blitz in October each year that yields business growth through into February and March. This year that momentum was stopped dead in April. As a result of our conversation she is now factoring the dates of Easter into her marketing plans. This will mean some years she will be ready to start the year much more strongly to ensure her team does not lose momentum in April.
The only way to navigate April successfully each year is to be well planned. All business owners know they should invest time in planning. The chaos and stress many experienced in 2017 can be avoided or at least minimised. Those who actually make the time and plan ahead are at a distinct advantage to those who do not.
Heads up for 2018 and 2019
Just to help you understand how this works lets take a quick look at the next 2 years.
- In 2018 we will have Easter holidays from Friday March 30 to Monday April 2. In NSW school holidays are after Easter and start on Saturday April 14, going back on Monday April 30. ANZAC Day is in the school holidays and is on a Wednesday so staff are less likely to want to take an extra long weekend. So we have 3 short weeks but they are not consecutive.
- In 2019 Easter will be from Friday April 19 to Monday April 22. NSW school holidays will start on Saturday April 13, and go back on Monday April 29. So Easter and ANZAC Day will be compacted into 2 weeks during the school holidays. In an 8 day period there will be 3 public holidays on Friday (19), Monday (22) and Thursday (25). Not much work will get done over those 8 days.
- Be well prepared, think ahead and maximise the opportunities related to your business.
- Make it a time for some of your team to take holidays
- Make it a time of preparation for a huge May-December