Seasonality is the curse of all auctioneers. Even auctioneers in roughly the same geographic area can have consistent yearly downturns during several months each year. The goal is to manage those downturns so that cash flow remains as steady as possible.
One tempting solution used by many auctioneers is to hold events on or near holidays and market them as a special opportunity. I’ve been involved with auctions on labor day and memorial day, though I’ve always questioned whether our crowd might have been better had we held the auction during the week rather than on a weekend where many consumers have plans centered on relaxation and recreation rather than shopping.
Pre-auction only Internet bidding mitigates the importance of scheduling an event around the varying schedules of expected auction participants and Internet only bidding eliminates it. However, I’ve seen a few auctioneers holding auctions without Internet bidding of any kind on this coming Black Friday.
It’s my guess that auctions of items that are gift items or personal items – furniture, electronics, appliances, antiques – may come up short in the holiday months with the stiff competition with retail stores eager to make the sale at all costs. Commercial assets should hold strong, as business decisions are usually more immune to the impulse-purchase-affected, constantly-fluctuating disposable cash-on-hand levels associated with gift shopping.
I think the best thing an auctioneer can do is to save the gift items from the live crowd on Black Friday and, instead, hold an Internet only auction on Cyber Monday when everyone is going to be looking to the Internet for the remaining gifts that they need to complete their holiday portfolio.
Do you believe holding auctions on or around holidays improves attendance? Are people willing to spend more at auction during the holiday shopping season? How can you effectively compete against the retail establishment on the one day of the year when they take no prisoners? Let us know in the comments.
If you’re holding an auction on Black Friday and wish to advertise it using guerrilla marketing tactics, please leave a link to your auction in the comments.