Surviving Retail In January

The holidays are over, the mad rush to shop has passed and consumers are buckling their wallets tight. Or are they? Traditionally, consumers will shop New Year sales for larger purchases, such as cars, appliances, electronics, furniture and other more expensive ticket items. However, for those of you selling clothes, accessories, home decor and items priced more affordable, it can be a struggle to make your sales goals in January. A few survival ideas include the following:

1. Provide a variety of prices.Consumers may not be willing to spend as quickly as they were before the holidays, but they will still spend if something intrigues them enough. Make sure to catch their attention at every price point that your store caters to… and possibly a little lower than your norm to get a few additional sales. These prices can be regular priced or products on sale. Either way, make sure you make them worth wanting through your displays and sales pitch.

2. Don’t put everything on sale but rather showcase what you want to sell. Even if you know something has been in your inventory for too long, your customers may not. Highlight this product by freshening up it’s display, how you merchandise it, what you merchandise it with and how your sales team supports it. Taking a fresh approach towards merchandising and ultimately selling older goods can often surprise you in the results… quick sales or unexpected sales to surprising customers!

3. Consider who your audience is and if whether or not you are reaching out to the right demographics. Often the biggest mistake retailers make  is not knowing who their customers are. January is  the perfect time of year to evaluate your business, and with that comes evaluating who your customer is. If you believe you are missing a core customer, find ways to reach this new audience. Consider various marketing tactics that include business to business marketing, promotional mailers and more. Your new audience may be just who you need to reach in order to obtain the sales goals you set for your business.

4. Give thanks to those who have already shopped at your store. Why not let your customers from 2009 know just how much you appreciate their business? By offering an incentive for them to return to your store, you open up the opportunity to gain additional sales. You can do this through having a customer appreciation sale, a special event, offering an incentive based coupon or in many other ways. Be creative in how you reach out to your customers and what you offer them so that they will actually want to return to your store. 10%, 20%, even 30% may not do it alone.

4. Stand out from your competition. Whether it’s through visual displays, product assortment, customer service, sales or special events, make sure you stand out from your competitors. Customers who shop local or independent boutiques are typically aware of their shopping choices, so be  ahead of the game by being the best at the game. Work hard to stand out and be the best in your local area – not only through product assortment and customer service, but special events, exciting sales and more. January markdowns and cluttered sales racks can get old. Bring something new to the table that your competition is not.

5. Introduce new selling strategies to your business. Consider selling at local markets, cross selling with other boutiques, swapping stale merchandise with friend boutiques for new product, selling merchandise online and much more. Be creative and think out of the box – whatever your box may be. By introducing new avenues to make sales, you increase your opportunity to make money.

Finally, be realistic and work hard. Now is not the time to get cozy and sit back. Dive into 2010 with ambition, dedication and new ways to get your business ahead. Stay focused, keep learning and always look for ways to grow your retail business in what is still a tough retail market.

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