Is slow trade self-inflicted?

shopping, saleDo you measure your success rate in quiet times and if so against what?

How intensely is your investment in retail working in the post Christmas period?

There are many measures that can be applied to the effectiveness of your business. The obvious and most telling measure is profitability, but there are other measures that will ultimately affect a company’s bottom line.

What are you doing to make post-Christmas sales and profit the best they can be? Or do you have a self-fulfilling believe that sales will be weak in this period?

Is the range you have on offer the best is can be? How well does the offer in your business match up to customers’ desires?

These are simple questions that good retailers are asking of themselves. We see great retailers take advantage of others being ‘off the boil’ at these times.

I am writing about these basic retail management measures, as when I walk shop floors, particularly now after a busy trading period, I see many things that worry me about how businesses look at this time of the year. I see many many stock outs on shelves and racks with all the best sellers gone, and those rejected laggards looking tired and unwanted, with price being the only motivator.  I see very few new or fresh offers that would inspire me to reach for my wallet. Why is it that we allow our stores to look so poor at this time of the year? To what extent are these quieter sales months self-inflicted? Have you planned them to be quiet?

Do we not want January and February to be the best they can be? Are they poor sales month because of what we offer our customers?

In a national retail business I once ran, we had for many years accepted that making a profit in these months was just not possible. Until we realised that we were not giving our customers any reason to shop with us and so we did something about it. By giving our customers new and balanced ranges we managed to turn those historically negative bottom lines into positive contributors. Simply by seeing those months as an opportunity.

In my opinion, retail in January and February provides a great opportunity to look better than the competition, to show a fresh face, to be new and enticing. We know what sold well in the prior busy months; let’s give our customers a new iteration of those items, not expect them to buy what they rejected in December.

It appears to me that not only humans suffer from hangovers, but also retail businesses take too long to recover from the Christmas party.

Peter Sheppard is senior Consultant and head of implementation division at Retail Doctor Group. Peter can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or


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