Wondering why the picture of chocolate? That’s just to make you feel better because this is not good news. Business statistics have confirmed that retail sales in May were down on a seasonally adjusted basis. May figures reflected the sharpest sales drop in 8 months. Experts were expecting a rise after an improvement in April.
Of course vic market traders could have told them that May would be down. In fact, do you wonder why they bother to spend millions of dollars on gathering retail statistics when they just need to come and ask QVM traders. Apart from the fact that we rely on tourists more than the average retailer we pretty much mirror what is happening out in the general marketplace.
At the start of 2011 we were quite rightly looking to a slow but steady improvement in retail sales through 2011. The experts told us that would happen. The reality is that retail sales are struggling. We are told that it is due to low consumer confidence. There is too much bad news around, particularly news that affects household budgets. The latest bad news is the uncertainty surrounding the carbon tax. The Herald Sun editorial today blamed a dysfunctional Gillard Government and suggested that it wasn’t just the economy that consumers were reacting to, but a lack of leadership.
What do we do? - Whatever the cause, we need to pull in our own purse strings for a bit longer. We need to stay lean and mean in our businesses. We need to remain active when promotional opportunities arise. We need to keep on looking for ways to excite our customers without incurring too much expense. We need to stay upbeat with our customers so that we don’t fuel the fires of negativity. There is no need to lie to customers but something like the following might be appropriate if asked how business is going – “Times are a bit tough but we are doing ok and fortunately we have the flexibility to meet our customer’s needs. Our suppliers are finding it tough too so there are some good deals out there which flows through to customers.” We need to give strong effective personal service to our customers because that is one area where we can beat the bigger retailers.
Finally – eat a bit more chocolate – it helps this writer.