More and more retailers are being pressured by the economy as the financial picture in the United States gets gloomier. Oil prices are soaring, along with the unemployment rate and home foreclosures. Squeezed by money problems, consumers are pulling back from buying. At the same time, banks are tightening up on credit. All this makes for tough times in the Industry. Still, the old adage that “when times get tough, the tough get going” would be well remembered here. Yes, this is a challenging retail environment. But, is it impossible? No way…
Just look at a lot of news coming out of the field. Goody’s Family Clothing, Inc. is filing Chapter 11. Not Good. But, couturier Tommy Hilfiger is making more money than ever. Very Good. Retailers, designers, and manufacturers all across the country are breaking into comparable groups. The losers. And the winners. The big question is, “Which side are you going to be on?” Because it is your decision where you want to go and your decision on what your attitude is going to be that will make all the difference.
Here are a few ideas to help you maintain a plus-side record on your journey through the present economic fog:
- 1. STAY POSITIVE: This doesn’t mean putting your head in the sand but it is important to remember that while you are dealing with consumer weakness, the American buyer is still buying. Competition, however, is a lot rougher when people are buying less, so get on your toes. Work on the Law of Attraction. Read books about beating out business competition. Know that you can do it.
- 2. STAY NEW: “This is not a moment for boring assortments,” says Andrew Jassin, managing director of the Jassin-O’Rourke Group, fashion consultancy. You really need to keep inventory as fresh as possible. You can’t afford to cut back now. Old product doesn’t bring in new customers.
- 3. BE CREATIVE: Don’t give up on anything. Buy new, of course. But at the same time, you can refresh your present inventory by presenting it to the customer in new, exciting ways. Create jewelry sets; combine hats with handbags for a more riveting product statement. Romance your product with sales material that describes its character: A Bohemian necklace is more attractive than a just a necklace.
- 4. BE ALERT TO OPPORTUNITIES: Become vigilant. Know your market, and know what is happening with your competition. Can you capture more of your present market by putting new ideas into effect? Is there a niche market out there waiting for you to get involved? Are you appealing to all the possible customers in your retail environment? Train yourself to start thinking big. To start thinking outside the box.
- 5. CREATE A BUZZ. Thomas Burns, senior vice president of The Doneger Group says “If you start creating an environment that isn’t exciting anymore, the customers see that. The customers are not stupid. They’ve got a lot of alternatives today.” And Glenda Bailey, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar reminds us, “Always remember you are in the entertainment industry,”
ON THE CUFF: Look at all those cuffs being worn by fashionistas! Chanel’s famous double-C logo metallic cuff sets the standard for many makers, who merely express the letters with circles for an even more trendy look. But that’s not all. Leather cuffs make a terrific look for cooler weather, especially done up with big, bold buckles. Cuffs don’t even have to stand alone anymore. Now, with the more is better mystique in full swing, cuffs are seen with charm bracelets, and other colorful wrist jewelry for a whole array of lower arm activity.. Big cuffs with gems embedded in them are also making news. Usually, the gemstones are set in the center of the heavy gold or silver (often 18K electroplated) cuff, and either worn alone or in duplicate, meaning on both wrists, a la Wonder Woman of comic book fame. Don’t try warding off bullets with these beauties, though, they’re strictly for show.