The reason I wanted to talk about how retailers manage their staff levels at Christmas time was because I heard a recent report saying that some retailers were not going to be boosting staff numbers for Christmas this year. Which I thought was an amazingly brave/stupid thing to do when the retail market has never been more competitive.

So I spoke to a broad spread of Auckland retailers this week to see what they were planning. And I didn't come across any who weren't boosting their numbers. It would harm their reputation for service, they said.

They provided some interesting tips which other retailers might like to take up. I like the way Mt Eden bookstore, Time Out is hiring of its regular young customers to help out in their children's section this year. Inspired.

Farro Fresh's Janene Draper tells us she has hired her extra staff earlier this year to ensure they are all ready to go and well trained up for when the rush really hits.


Joanna Legat, from Isabel Harris makes the good point that her staff, used to working in small numbers during the year, have to adjust to working with a larger group at Christmas. So it is important for her to manage this.

The Christmas selling season is a real time when retailers pull in friends and family as extra staff. Tayor Road's John Heng is delighted one daughter is coming home from London and has volunteered to work in his Ponsonby shop which his other daughter runs. His third daughter will be working in his Palmerston North store.

Retail these days is more about delighting customers with a "wow" experience rather than the hard sell, says Trish McLean from recruitment firm Retailworld Resourcing. And a tip to students wanting jobs in retail, if they don't have direct experience, employers will look next at their extra curricular activities and volunteer work which might highlight potential transferrable skills.

Thanks to Zac de Silva for putting me in touch with three hard working retailers this week including Liz Oldfield at Milly's Kitchen and Kylee Davis of Kylee Davis of Kylee Davis Knitwear, the designer behind Insidious Fix. Davis has recently extended to being open seven days a week at her new store at the top of Mt Eden Road for the Christmas period and likes to offer tea to customers and staff to keep their spirits up.

Next week: A number of enterprising companies are creating apps for their own purposes and for others. There are also a number of apps being developed for small businesses to help them manage their businesses better. I'd like to hear from all of you who are particularly proud of your app especially if it can be used by others too.