This year, the company I work for had some difficulties. It was on the brink of administration. A solution was found by shedding some of the less profitable stores and focussing on those that make money all the time. Whilst this has been practical for the survival of the company, it has inevitably resulted in job losses, a regrettable side effect of trimming the fat.
But what has this meant for shoppers? Obviously there are reduced opportunities for sales with less retail outlets, but there has also been another effect – less stock availability. During the transiton period which lasted a few months, shops didn’t have the stock it so desperately needed to retain custom and increase sales. The classic catch 22: you need the sales to keep the company viable but if your suppliers are unwilling to trade with you….well you know how it goes.
So for a significant period of time, until very recently, most shops were trading with remaining summer stock and nothing, or very little, new coming in to entice customers back into the stores. It doesn’t take long for shoppers to switch allegiance. This is showing in the figures.
We now have stock coming in, new lines and I have to say that our shop floor, small as it is (in general retail terms), is beginning to look healthier. For us at the coal face, a lot of time is spent reassuring customers that all is back on track and that stock will continue to flow into the business on a regular basis. But customers are still claiming “you don’t have much in do you?” and it is difficult to turn that mindset around.
All we can do is keeping waiting for deliveries, hoping there is new stock coming in that we can display to the best of our ability and keep talking and selling to customers.