PERSPECTIVES

From The Co-Founders

rss

Tips, Tactics & Strategic Insights and Commentary
from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts

COVID-19 thumbs/streetart.png

We recently learned of a restaurant with a kids menu which is quite unusual.

Of course, having a kids menu is not unique. But here's what IS unusual about this one.

When kids are asked "What would you like to eat?", often their answers can range from "I don't know" to "I don't care." 

But at this restaurant, here is what each all-too-familiar answer brings to the table:

customers2 copy.png

As the final third of the year approaches, there's a "new era" afoot. There is optimism in the air. 

Optimism? Really? 

Yes! And it could catch a lot of folks by surprise. 

 

Consider these "early warning signs" of approaching good news:

  • Those surveys of "consumer attitudes" indicate that folks do reflect the news headlines regarding the economy – that is, respondents are pessimistic about "the economy." But when asked about their own financial situation, the responses were very positive; people feel good about their personal financial situation.

COVID-19 thumbs/SearchROI.jpg

You've no doubt seen the headlines and the commentary:

  • "Retailers Stumble Adjusting to More Selective Shoppers" *
     
  • "Consumers Uneven Spending Fuels Caution Among Retailers" **

Consumer spending is up, but not on what was expected, especially those publicly-traded chains that must report quarterly. 

  • "As people watched the prices of food and gas rise, their spending became more selective, leaving retailers with shelves of inventory they couldn’t get rid of." 
     
  • "Although some consumers are cutting spending on goods, it is being accompanied by increased spending on services," according to Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics. **

COVID-19 thumbs/checklist2.png

It doesn't make any difference if you're selling tires, turbans or tuxedoes. 

Poor prior planning produces pitifully poor profits. 
(You can take that to the bank!)

We came across an article on this checklist theme for the rapidly approaching fall/Holiday season. 

COVID-19 thumbs/HelpWanted.png

Artful Idea for Retention Bonus

When asked "How many people work for you these days?", one owner we know responded, "Oh, about half of them."

Hopefully you don't share that same lament.

But, most retailers know all too well the challenges and high costs of competing for talented employees.

And, keeping staff – versus dealing with constant turnover – is even more important. Especially to your bottom line. 

So we were intrigued by this report in CNN Travel*:
  • Germany's Ruby Hotels, which has 16 properties across Europe, is offering new recruits up to €500 ($511) to get a new tattoo, piercing or haircut once they reach six months of employment.

COVID-19 thumbs/InvTurns.001.png

The playing field has shifted dramatically under the feet of retailers. 

Merchandise orders placed months ago are now proving to be "too much stuff that consumers no longer want so much of,"  as was reported rather colloquially just 3 days ago.  All this was summed up this way: "Retailers with slower inventory turns might find current conditions especially difficult to navigate." *

Now, look at the chart at the top of the page. Without being dramatic, it may be a lifesaver for your business this year. 

COVID-19 thumbs/BlueKettleBooskstore.png

photo: Greg Gilbert/Seattle Times

Recently we read of a "bookshop on wheels" launched by a college English instructor. While certainly not the first retail variation on a food truck, this one has gained praise for its authenticity. 

"What’s most surprising when you walk into Blue Kettle Books for the first time is how cozy and, well, bookstore-ish the tiny space feels."*

COVID-19 thumbs/Lifestages.png

Just this morning we saw yet another article speculating about the staying power of online shopping, in this instance, grocery shopping. 

  • "Right now, the direction is … unclear," admitted the reporter.* "I have been scouring data on online grocery shopping in the U.S., and I will be humble and say that I don’t have a clear picture."
  • "My wishy-washy analysis is that Americans haven’t fallen head over heels for buying bananas over the internet, but we aren’t rejecting it, either."

Of course, it's not just media pundits who are looking for answers to this question about online versus in-store shopping. Retailers are living with this issue, and they have to make decisions.