Spring is in the air. More places are lifting Covid restrictions. Daylight savings time starts this coming Sunday, extending the evening hours.
And, for the first time in years, we can expect to celebrate Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, graduations, weddings with few restrictions. All promise a renewed air of celebration!
There is widespread anticipation that consumer spending will be very strong. But...spending on what? Before you place all those merchandise orders, consider this.
You've gotten through the Holiday season, likely enjoyed some vacation time, and perhaps even have your own financial statements in hand.
For many retailers, 2021 proved to be a very profitable year. Congratulations!
In fact, go here to check out the pre-tax profit trends for the past two years for the median performers in 50+ retail segments. To borrow a phrase, everybody (almost) is above average!
Maybe you are aware of this. We sure are!
Way too many retailers are just fumbling along, paying everybody else but not themselves.
Worse yet, way too many retailers are failing, going bankrupt, even in these "good" times for the economy.
And when a retail business fails, it affects a host of people and entities. Not only do employees lose their jobs, and landlords lose a tenant, and suppliers lose a customer, and a community loses a retailer...the owner(s) oftentimes lose their house, car, savings, everything.
Failure is sickening.
If 2020 was the year of pandemic disruption and scramble-to-survive mode for retailers, 2021 may be the year of relentless Retail Is Detail reminders.
Many of you may well have benefitted from one or more rounds of PPP loans and their potential "forgiveness." Now comes the reminders that you must seek forgiveness. In writing. From the bank that loaned you the funds. And there are some time deadlines involved. Yikes.
Oh, and total forgiveness may not be forthcoming. It depends. (See below for these guides* and disclaimers from the SBA.)
Then there are the so-called "bookkeeping details" surrounding all this.
About a year ago, as the pandemics were beginning to hit their stride, we introduced a framework for retailers to "rethink your merchandise mix."
As depicted in the chart above, we cautioned that once the lockdown was over, as customers resumed shopping, retailers should be prepared for (1) reduced sales totals overall; (2) significantly re-balanced merchandise mixes, initially dominated by "basics/never-outs."
Further, we anticipated that the merchandise mix would continue to change as we re-emerge from the effects of the pandemics. And we urged retailers to take this overall construct and adapt it to their own situation; to develop their own customized strategic response.*
Now, one year later, here's how this can become "news you can use" to quickly produce your Big Picture buying plan. Especially in the spring of 2021, some practical answers to "What to buy?" , "How much?" and "When?" are likely to be very welcome.
Here we are, in the first week of December, in this tumultuous pandemic year of 2020.
Maybe more than ever, you need to have a grip on your cash flow! What will you cash flow look like during December, January and February?
Since you must be able to make informed decisions about your business, every day, an up-to-date cash flow calculation is essential. Remember, profits are interesting, but it's cash flow that's significant!
Cash flow doesn't have to be fancy. In fact, what most owners need is just to have the basics on the back of an envelope. The savvy ones always have that with them.
That's a sign of the times, isn't it?
While retailers are more accustomed than most folks to cope with change, 2020's unrelenting flexibility tests have been a challenge. Forget about five years. Retailers have to be ready for the next five months! It's back-to-school and then Holiday.
The only certainty about the next five months is that they will probably feel like the past five months. Yet you still must run a retail business. And that means you still must buy and sell merchandise.
The opportunities – and the pressures – are mounting.
Still less than $1 a day! 👀