"Buy low. Sell high. Collect early. Pay late."
That's the essence of retailing, right? But now, in the early summer of 2021, retailing more than ever demands a strong dose of good judgment.
It's shouted everywhere: "Look out! The inflation tsunami is coming!"
Yikes! It's buying season for many retailers, and the pressures to buy more, now, at these-low-prices-that-won't-last are mounting. And this is only the beginning.
Retailers aren't the only ones under pressure, of course. Vendors are under increasing competition from online marketplaces. Trade shows are eager to resume the in-person experience, and likely pressuring their exhibitors to offer more enticing "show only" deals to bring in the retailers (who may still be reluctant to travel, or put off by the increased travel costs.)
Plus, every retailer is confronted with balancing the advantage of buying more now to enjoy better margins, with the uncertainty surrounding putting any price increases in place.
It's a constant stream of "what if...?" and "yeah but..." considerations for every retailer, with endless opportunities for second-guessing. None of this is new, of course. But it is particularly heightened in these post-pandemic times with the threat of looming inflation.
But, the show must go on. Decisions must continue to be made.
Your goal: stay very flexible. Remember that cash is the best answer for every flexibility test. Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy choices. Every week, those retailers with the most cash will have the most choices.
The old adage still applies: "Buy low. Sell high Collect early. Pay late."
* Jaewon Kang, "Supermarkets Are Stockpiling Inventory as Food Costs Rise." The Wall Street Journal, July 6, 2021.
Is there a more difficult everyday challenge?
As owners of businesses, we've got all of the issues of the times right on our plates. Think about it:
Is there a more difficult every day challenge than maintaining perspective? We don't think so.
Just this morning we saw yet another article speculating about the staying power of online shopping, in this instance, grocery shopping.
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.
It has begun; the 4th quarter of the year. But sadly, Covid-19, the Delta variant, and now the Alpha variant will have huge influence.
Meanwhile, there is no shortage of opinions and predictions about the economy, whether from Wall Street, the Fed, Capitol Hill, or your buying group or retail trade association.
Amidst all this, we were intrigued by a report that could be of far more value to retailers: results of a monthly survey of consumer concerns.* After all, for retailers, the shopper matters much more than the pundits on the business pages.
Since Labor Day in the US is the first Monday in September, this year it happens as late as possible. Labor Day will not be celebrated until next Monday, September 7.
Most years, most folks would be perfectly happy to have August stretched out even longer. Ahh, those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, right?
And so, meanwhile, we regard Consumer Confidence as THE key indicator of consumer spending. Just last week, the Conference Board reported that Consumer confidence is at a six year low*. Ouch!
But, was that a surprise to retailers? Not really. Most retailers are well along in coping with these challenges.
No, Not About People This Time
While we typically think of people as recipients of recognition – and we trust you already are doing that, right? – this is a different challenge.
Ready? Here we go! Of your merchandise, which products are Award Winners?!
As the Holiday Season approaches, finding good help promises to be especially challenging for retailers this year.
Then, we read "10 Things to Know to Get And Keep Retail Jobs," a to-the-point commentary from Bob Phibbs*, who specializes in retail sales training.
Here are his Top Ten recommendations for prospective retail employees:
Still less than $1 a day! 👀