As we follow economic indicators that particularly affect retailers, our primary focus always is consumer confidence. And the reports coming out this week give us pause.
The highly transmissible Delta variant and the vaccine hesitancy of many have changed the momentum. Covid fatigue is back. This affects consumers.
And with it, more challenges for retailers. Decisions and policies may be needed regarding vaccinations, both for your staff and your shoppers. Meanwhile, consumers are likely taking another pause. Will schools reopen? Will offices reopen?
So, what's a retailer to do? What you always do: deal with it!
The advantage that independent retailers have is that you can move and adjust very quickly, being responsive to your local market. The Big Guys can't do this as well as you.
For instance, as you and your buyers review and adjust your buying plans, here are some reminders to keep in mind:
Most important, review our "Rethinking Your Merchandise Mix" (see chart above)
As you know, retailing never has been a "set it and forget it" operation. Instead, it demands your constant attention and especially, your resilience. But it does reward those who are steadfast about maintaining their flexibility.
One final thought: Be prepared to bounce back in another direction.
As Curtin observed, "In the months ahead, it is likely that consumers will again voice more reasonable expectations, and with control of the Delta variant, shift toward outright optimism."
* Preliminary Results for August 2021, Surveys of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin, University of Michigan.
This is welcome news for many retailers, as consumer confidence has been a key leading indicator of retail sales.
However, a note of caution: retail sales are not the sole component of consumer spending.
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.
That headline from Chain Store Age* brings smiles to retailers.
Consumer confidence is a key indicator of retail sales, and this increasing confidence as we head into the holiday season is very welcome indeed.
But of course, there is no one-size-fits-all upside here.
What is the definition of "value" for customers? Pretty straightforward, actually.
Wait. What? "Benefits received?" "Burdens endured?"
Turns out, the only single answer to "What is value?" is, "It depends."
Don't just roll your eyes. What constitutes value for your customers increasingly is a make-or-break part of retailing.
It's a given that your sales volume is a very big deal. Granted, you are analyzing it every day. But here's a slightly different approach which you may find very revealing.
Let's start with a couple truisms. The definition of retailing is “selling to the ultimate consumer.”
Retailing also is having "the right product at the right price at the right place at the right time for the right customer."
But, as retailers ponder how best to manage sales in the current consumer environment, does it really matter whether their "right customers" buy from them in-store or online?
Actually, it might! And here’s a simple, free "pilot project" to find out a little more.
Some thoughts from Nordstrom leadership that are spot on!
That's what Nordstrom President and Chief Brand Officer Pete Nordstrom told Puget Sound Business Journal columnist Patti Payne on April 23, 2020.
And what he succinctly stated is exactly the challenge – and opportunity – that is confronting all retail owners.
In order to answer whether you should re-open once you can, you first must be very confident in WHAT kind of retail operation you will be re-opening.
The only certainty of the aftermath of the pandemic is that everything will be different. Given that, what better time to re-imagine your business?
Still less than $1 a day! 👀