After months of doom-and-gloom headlines and hand-wringing about a recession in 2023, headlines last week (quietly) said this: "What Recession? Some Economists See Chances of a Growth Rebound." One economist, in fact, seemed a little chagrined to note "So far, the U.S. economy has proved unexpectedly resilient." *
Retailers must be mindful of all this as they make their business and buying decisions throughout the year. But the macro economy is simply interesting, but not significant. Your local economy is, of course, what really matters.
In that context, every savvy owner uses these three steps.
We know, "plan" can be an intimidating word. But you're not trying to plan the future. You're simply identifying your destination.
This key step starts with revisiting your overall planning assumptions.
Next, of course, compare your Actual results to your Plans. No, don't focus solely on "How are sales?" Instead, check out in particular these three "big" numbers, the ones that are more manageable by you.
Given all that, what adjustments could you or should you make? Small ones are preferable. You have a destination and a road map from Step #1. The adjustments are adjusting to the conditions: Is it icy? Are there detours? Potholes to avoid?
Remember, these "adjustments" aren't to change your plan; that's what some folks call "moving the goalposts." Instead, you may need to adjust some of the purchasing decisions, or expense management, or promotional activities, etc, in order to adjust to the conditions.
Remember, our focus is on the controllable variables. And the macro-economy is NOT a controllable variable for any of us!
The key: Keep your perspective. And use the lead time.
* "What Recession? Some Economists See Chances of a Growth Rebound."Jeanna Smialek, The New York Times, Feb 9, 2023.
According to the calendar, as of March 21, it officially is springtime. No matter what the weather is doing.
Well, it's time to bring the calendar to real life! Spring is really a state of mind! The dark winter has passed. Even the rain is warmer in the spring. And new growth is beginning to sprout; leaves are coming out. It's a wonderful, fresh outlook.
And that of course means it is a wonderful opportunity for retailers to refresh and reenergize their stores.
No matter what merchandise you sell - whether it's tires, apparel, books, housewares, office supplies, whatever - every retailer is in the fashion business.
And that means that your customers are wanting what is new and fresh.You know; "in fashion."
"Of course I want it today. If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have come in tomorrow."
That's what we call "retail time." Retailers are comfortable with that pace; they enjoy the variety; they welcome the need to change and adjust.
But, instead of just keeping life interesting, 2020 seems to have gone overboard in bringing changes and disruption to us all. The triple pandemic of the virus, the economy, and the civil unrest. And oh yes, it's also an election year. Enough already, right?
We think the most challenging part of this is the effect on our sense of time.
You've seen all the headlines. Worldwide inflation. Dire warnings of a coming recession. Big time discounts at retailers due to boatloads of inventory. Amazon doubling down on their Prime Day(s) sales. Shoppers shopping early in anticipation of rising prices.
Shaping up to be yet another "unprecedented" Holiday season for retailers, isn't it?
And a wonderful opportunity for all merchants!
How best to start? Set the boundaries.
Next, establish clear routines for monitoring inventory levels.
There's little that any of us can do to address the public health crisis of the pandemic. Its impact on people and businesses is a widespread and major jolt, akin to the shocks of 9/11 and the 2008-09 economic meltdown.
Even as painful and disruptive as the pandemic is at this moment, we must remind ourselves that it will subside. It's not whether it will subside, just when.
But all of us are going to have to deal with the ensuing economic situation, and its effects on our sales, our customers, our employees.
These are difficult times for us all. Retailing in particular is under enormous stress. Many feel like there are no good choices.
But, there are good decisions. And The ROI is dedicated to helping you be able to make those good decisions for yourself.
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?
In most years, this is the week that is typically a bit of a lull. The first wave of shoppers – Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday, Cyber Monday – has crested; the final wave doesn't begin in earnest until this coming weekend.
But this year IS different. Shoppers began shopping in earnest much earlier. And they use the internet to do their browsing, and then have an array of choices for receiving their purchases, from delivery to curbside pickup to in-store pickup.
So, what better time than this to revisit your returns policy?!
Still less than $1 a day! 👀