Monday, October 5, 2009

Recession Survival Tips for Retailers

A friend of mine recently posted on her Facebook page that she had to cut back on her spending. She stated she would cut her visits to one of her favorite big box stores because she can’t seem to get out of there without dropping at least 50 bucks!
Interestingly enough many replied to her post with similar thoughts about the need to cut back on spending.

Not long ago it was rare for anyone to admit that they were facing financial challenges. Today – with the current economic crisis and our worries about staying warm this winter – it is not only commonplace – it is the “in thing” to be a tight wad. For many of us – we don’t have a choice!

Ironically – I turned on the TV last night and the “big box” store my friend was referring too has launched a new advertising campaign addressing the growing trend of American consumers cutting back on spending by offering creative and affordable ways to still live well – and prices attractive enough to keep us shopping at their store.

I predict other retailers will follow suit by substantially cutting prices and will be offering steep holiday discounts much earlier than in previous seasons. This may be good news for us consumers – but tough news for retailers. Add to that the rising cost of goods and the tightening up of credit – and retailers are not having an easy time of it right now.

If you own a retail business here are a few tips to help you stay in business when consumer spending is tight.

1. Review your pricing
See if you can lower some prices, offer specials or value items in addition to your existing product line. Be very careful not to seriously jeopardize your cash flow!

2. Diversify your offerings
Consider expanding what you offer to include products or services that customers will continue to buy when sales slow in other areas of your business

3. NEVER skimp on quality!
With less money to spend – customers won’t return to your place of business if the quality is less than what it used to be. This is especially true for restaurants!

4. Offer exceptional customer service
This is critical to business success in any economy – but even more important when consumers are more selective about where they do business.

5. Monitor your income and expenses
Pay close attention to your cash flow and cut back on expenses where you can without jeopardizing your current or future business.

The upside to all of this is that a retail business that makes smart adjustments now will stand a much greater chance of surviving this current economic downturn and when things turn around for the better – will have a stronger, more profitable business as a result. Fingers crossed – things turn around soon! In the meantime – humming Monty Python’s tune “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” is one of my favorite economic recovery strategies!

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