Here everyone sits, perched on the edge of fourth quarter and waiting for holiday business.
It’s a bit nerve-wracking, to be sure, but there is good news.
I’ve talked to 15 or 20 retailers in the past month and almost to a person, they’re saying things are getting a little better. They are seeing a little up-tick in business.
As one retailer said, “Customers tell me ‘I have to let go, I have to buy something.” Let’s face it, you can’t keep the American female shopper from buying but so long.
The trick is what they’re buying and how skillful you are at supplying what they want.
Two merchandising trends popped out in these conversations that you may want to consider. And maybe you’re already doing some of this. I hope so.
ONE: Make it easier for your customer. Offer a special service, such as what I call “fluffing.” Her bookcases and mantel need some TLC, she thinks. After some conversation about her tastes, a smart retailer can load up the SUV with a variety of product and do the job for her. Several retailers tell me very little comes back to the store from such a trip.
You can’t do that? Surely someone in your store can – or work out a trade with a local designer who has some extra time and talent.
TWO: Many specialty shops are shifting their mix slightly more to gifts because they are finding shoppers will buy a gift when they won’t buy for themselves. Help the customer realize decorative accessories make wonderful gifts. If you can pre-wrap them or at least wrap them at sale, all the better. And if you’re going to pre-wrap, make it pretty. The big department store is doing that white paper/red ribbon with a gold seal thing; you can do better.
I think you have to do something. Standing still is going backward. We’re in a different world now and success comes only to those who fight for it.
Happy and prosperous holidays to us all.