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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Simon

January Retail Clarity - The answer to bleak midwinter blues...

January and February can be tough, 'survival of the fittest' months for Retailers of any size or pedigree. After the madness and heavy footfall of 'Peak' and 'SALE', things can get very quiet during January and February especially, and this can be a very tricky trading period.

Add to this, a later Easter trading period this year - and you can understand why some Retailers can feel quite anxious about Winter and early Spring...

Here are some suggestions - in no particular order - on what you can do to use those leaner weeks to your advantage and to help strengthen your Retail Business:

Re-set after Peak

This may sound obvious - However many Retailers fail to do a structured housekeeping exercise after Peak. January gives great opportunity to do a really deep clean of your store(s) - both front and back of house. This is the time to clear down and scrub the place as well as to review and refine layouts and improve retail standards. If you have multiple sites, make a competition of this. Which store can be the sharpest? You'll be pleasantly surprised at how engaged your Team will be and how energising this is for everyone involved.

Re-organise your stockroom so that it works more effectively. January tends to be the leanest stock-hold month for many retailers which makes it an opportune time to rethink stockroom layouts and efficiencies.

In all instances where I have introduced these post-Peak re-set exercises for a retailer, it has increased sales. Every time! Top Tip: It’s also a great pre-Peak exercise

Review PEAK properly and plan now for PEAK 2019

This is THE best time to plan for next Xmas. The recent weeks of Peak trade are still fresh in your mind - so take some time to record what worked well and what you'd do differently. Believe me! You won’t remember much of this if you leave it until just before next Peak. A little time taken now will ensure you are better prepared for Q4 of this year.

Recommend that you review what worked and what didn’t around some of the following headings:

·      People planning

·      Product (winner lines / slow sellers)

·      Marketing

·      Store layouts / VM

·      Promotions and deals

·      Point of Sale and signage

·      Tactical Trading

·      SALE strategy

·      etc.

Build your Commercial Calendar for the Full Year

We've already mentioned that Easter falls later this year - 3 weeks later than 2018 to be precise. Cyber trading is also slightly later this year - with Black Friday on November 29th and Cyber Monday not until 2nd December – this could mean a tighter peak trading run. Good to know and plan for that now.

Draw all the peak trading influences out onto a calendar now - so that you can see at a glance where your planning focus needs to be; Easter, Communion/Confirmation season, School holidays, Cyber Trading etc. This will help you plan your stock drops, key buys, etc. as well as plan your commercial approach for the year ahead.

Remember Your Customer!

This is fundamentally your No. 1 Priority!

Businesses that succeed, are those that adapt and change to suit their customers changing needs. There are less customers in your store at this time of the year. Take this opportunity to talk to those that are in your store. You'll get seriously valuable commercial insight into your own business .... through their eyes!

How are they trafficking your store? Watch! When they come in - which direction do they go? How long before they slow down? Where do they linger? How do they shop? Is your shop fit or layout as easy to navigate or as commercial as it could be? Your customer sees the store differently than you do. Stand back and observe...Talk to them! This is a great opportunity to ask your customers what they like. And what they don’t like - about your store, layout, product, service... Remember that all feedback is a gift! Ask your customers what you may be missing/ how can you be even better than you clearly are already.

And if all that doesn’t keep you busy, or if you need further inspiration, give me a shout or drop me a line!

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