Your results are likely to be consistent with these patterns.
So when it comes time to plan your sales and buying plans, you are unlikely, for example, to plan for double-digit sales increases every January and February. Instead, you will be prepared to "Apply your best judgment."
Who or what is most likely to be blind-sided by this? The machine-learning algorithms and the artificial intelligence tools that promise to forecast sales for retailers. (And by extension, those retailers – perhaps new to retailing – who accept those forecasts.)
You've seen them, right? The promises of the wisdom of the computer, the power of machine learning, artificial intelligence tools that are evaluating past results and projecting them forward. Their machine learning is based on pattern recognition, and we have had nothing but random patterns for the past two years. Might that explain the current bloating of excess inventory?
When it comes to projecting sales, which its crucial for managing and controlling inventory, there are several other factors to be considered, most of which are beyond the capabilities of the algorithms.
Obviously, the most important step is "applying your best judgment!" That you have in abundance.
That message is emblazoned – in sunshine colors - in the windows of Nordstrom's flagship store in downtown Seattle. And yes, on a drizzly January day in Seattle, it was a welcome sight this morning. A nice pep talk for us all.
And a fitting message to follow our reflections on the year we just experienced.
Since March 2 of 2020, our From The Co-Founders commentary has been focused on the pandemics. Revisiting those was quite the "year in review" experience.*
The constant challenge for retailers is to anticipate what their customers really want. And this year, there seem to be plenty of choices available.
It is all part of the on-going challenge of retail; the art and craft of being a merchant.
Then there are the customers who are reacting to the constant drumbeat of news about supply chain issues, merchandise shortages, and looming price increases by starting their shopping early.
Adding to this stampede, some major chains were launching their Black Friday specials before Halloween!
Alas, there is really no way to avoid discussing COVID-19, the coronavirus that began in China last month, and now continues to spread throughout the world.
No matter whether or when it is officially declared a "pandemic," the uncertainty and angst that it is generating have troubling implications for retailers.
People don't go into retailing to be financiers.
But few are attracted to the financial part.
Which is exactly why The Retail Owners Institute website has been built!
Given our years of experience consulting with retailers, especially in turnaround situations, our speaking at conferences and publishing in trade publications, we wanted to "level the playing field" for retailers.
There's a lot of optimism in the air these days.
Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are being eased. More people are becoming vaccinated. Upbeat economic news is reported. Unemployment figures are improving. Restaurants are preparing for diners to return. And of course, given that we are now starting to compare sales results to the meltdowns of 2020, dramatic percentage growth is being reported and forecast for the balance of the year.
These positive and optimistic news reports all are very welcome. Retailers are eager to see customers return.
But what should retailers expect? To brace yourself for the myriad changes.
The just-released "2021's Main Street Business Survivor Study" from the Pandenomics series conducted by the PYMNTS.com folks* focuses on the "Main Street Survivors:" those small to medium sized businesses "that have weathered the pandemic's fallout."
What have these "survivors" done differently than the rest of SMB businesses? Here are the major findings of their study. We think that you'll see many of the survival steps you have taken, or be prompted to adopt some others.
Still less than $1 a day! 👀