A big thank you to our Trader's Representatives who put a strong case to management allowing us to trade last Tuesday (Boxing Day public holiday) despite the fact that food traders had elected to close. Following a poor trading year and public holiday closures on two key Sundays over the Christmas/New Year period, it was felt that we should take advantage of every opportunity to conduct our businesses. We have many reports of good trading for General Merchandise Traders on Tuesday.
The much publicised retail downturn has impacted on the Australian share market with key retailers losing significant value as their share price tumbled.
The S&P 200 Retailing index slumped 34 per cent in 2011, as the share price for JB Hi-Fi slumped by 33 per cent, Harvey Norman lost 38 per cent and department stores David Jones and Myer both dropped more than 40 per cent.
Surfwear manufacturer, Billabong, lost three quarters of its value as it continually announced profit downgrades and struggled with its strategy to operate its own stores. 2012 is expected to continue the difficult conditions and business uncertainty experienced in 2011.
This photo was taken at 12:10 on Saturday 16th December looking up K shed just one week before Christmas. We don't have a picture of the carpark on that day but we can assure you it was very full with typical weekend traffic. Obviously the customer flow in K shed is very disappointing and we believe reflects the general traffic flow in the top end of the market on that day.
This photo of the carpark was taken on Tuesday 27th December at 11:35 am. Your would be forgiven for thinking that the market wasn't open. In fact the food section was closed on this day but General Merchandise Traders were operating.
This photo was taken looking up K shed at around 11:35 am on Tuesday 27th December, the same day as the carpark photo. Not a bad show of customers yet the carpark was almost empty. What does all this tell us?
1. A full carpark has no real relevance for GM Traders?
2. GMT customers are a totally different breed to food customers?
3. GMT customers don't drive their cars to the market?
All of these points could be true but obviously we are not going to draw hard conclusions from a couple of photos. One conclusion is inescapable - The customer mix at the QVM is complex and deserves real analysis.
First it was the darling of electronics retailers, JB HiFi, issuing a profit warning for Christmas trading and now it is the darling of the clothing retailers.
Kathmandu have been bucking the trend all year with improved performances in their outdoor oriented clothing store chain but have succumbed to poor Christmas trading and announced a profit downgrade for the December quarter.
The Christmas festive season is upon us however, in true trader fashion, we will continue to operate this site so please keep in touch and inform us of any trader news that needs circulating. This is our first Christmas so we are not sure what retail information services will keep operating.
We wish you all a very happy and profitable festive season and ask you to take care as you juggle business, celebration and the general rush and bustle of this time of year.
Saturday 16th - Spoke to Coach Captain Wayne in the market this morning. He'd just dropped off 48 regional visitors from the Latrobe Valley (Moe, Morwell). They would have 3 hrs of market shopping before being picked up at 11:45 for the short trip down to the Crown Complex where they would spend about 4 hours before heading home. As Wayne said "Lucky they come to us before the casino."
One of the advantages of online newspapers is that readers can publish their responses in the comments section and we can get a bit of a cross-section of consumers views. The following comment comes from an Age article about Myer’s rationalisation plans.
We have been cracking on for some time about the unique advantage that Queen Victoria Market Traders have department stores by offering personal service and this comment has particular relevance –
“Broadly speaking there are two types of shoppers. Those that want to be fussed over by sales assistances, needing advice and to deliver the confidence or reassurance that the product is right for them. The second shopper, knows what they want and doesn't want someone coming up and pestering them and usually reply with I am just looking. When this shopper wants to enquire about a size of a product they expect to find someone. Floor staff in major retail stores need training to be able to assess clients when they approach them. That is the problem, these days they don't. You can walk through an entire department and find no one or see maybe 2 staff members hiding and chatting. Then busy counters like hosiery with queues a mile long and two staff there serving when there should be four. Stores need to get rid of dead staff and replace with people who know and understand customer service. The store management need a bomb put up them as they have allowed bad service to develop and continue.” Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/business/myer-to-close-or-shrink-stores-as-retail-malaise-bites-20111218-1p0q4.html#ixzz1gvkuZHV0
Department stores are suffering more than most in the retail downturn and Myer have announced that they will be closing a number of under-performing stores (most seem to be in NSW), downsizing others, and reducing the terms of their leases to become more flexible.
A Myer spokeswoman said - ''Where a lease is coming up for renewal we will look to sign for a shorter duration and the store will potentially be downsized as we build up our online business,''
''Myer has embraced the internet as a friend and our goal is to give customers a choice. That could see department stores evolve into a place to pick up items bought online, or where consumers can browse, try on items before buying online or even a place where goods can be exchanged.
''It's not an either-or strategy. We expect the internet to grow significantly and we are focused on putting in all the right infrastructure. This includes our ongoing strategy of rationalising stores and offerings.''
(See our separate post concerning consumer responses to the Myer announcement.)
Trader Leah's young son Austin is one of the most popular people at the market so it is no wonder he turns up on our pages. It is not just the ladies who are drawn to his charms either. Many a macho male trader have been seen talking baby talk with him.
Bizz Buzz are offering $75 worth of Google AdWords advertising for free.
What’s all this ‘Google AdWords’ biz about? So, here’s what you know already: Your customers are using Google to search for the products and services you offer. But how can you help these customers find you without having to engage in all of the online technical fuss? Well, Google AdWords can be used to immediately place your advertising message smack-bang in front of your customers when they search for businesses like your own. When your customers see your ad alongside or above relevant search results and click on it, they go to your website, as opposed to your competitors, and, you’ll only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad. Using AdWords will allow you to control when your ad is shown by selecting the search terms and locations that are only relevant to your business. With this deal, see what will work and what won’t for a whole $75, and there will be NO COMMITMENT to pay beyond this amount if it doesn’t work out for you. Click here for details - http://bizzbuzz.com.au/deals/free-google-adwords-credit/
Melbourne Central have built a unique pop-up shop on their second floor mall area to give shoppers a breather from their shopping and provide inspiration for gift buying.
The pop-up showcases select gifts from various retailers in the centre and helps shoppers get inspiration without the clutter. Visitors can also receive things like invigorating facial spritzes, energising fresh apples and beverages, Crabtree and Evelyn hand massages, and Kikki. K ‘to do’ lists. The sense of theatre has added a new dimension to retailing at Melbourne Central and allows management and retailers to cameo interesting aspects of their offer.
Some time ago we wrote to management seeking something similar for QVM. We proposed a suitable pop-up structure in Queen St. that would allow different traders to display some of their key products. It was suggested that the pop-up could be manned by traders on a rotational basis for a couple of hour each day and business cards and directions could be offered to interested shoppers. We saw it as a viable way of feeding Queen St. pedestrian traffic into the top of the market.
Maybe it is time we re-visited the idea. What do you think?
Xenia is not well at present and we wish her a speedy recovery. She features in this week's best-of-market-interviews spot.
What do you sell at the market? Seat covers & animal skins.
How long have you been at the market? - over 25 years. Why have you been successful? - I know my product. What do you like best about the market? - I enjoy the interaction with customers. What is the worst thing about the market - What happened to weekends for the last 25 years? Past jobs? - Waitressing. Sporting interests? - Tennis and basketball If you were CEO for a day? - I'dmake M shed a trading part of the market. One thing nobody knows about you? - I am now a builder. Favorite food? - Laksa soup from the food court. Favorite drink? - Johnny Walker on the rocks. Favorite TV show? - Conviction cooking show. What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? - "For what you want in life - Don't be scared - just go for it."
Duhhh!!! Ok, we are stating the obvious, but a better understanding of the difference could lead to improved sales.
Tourists (bless them), are in a very favourable mindset when they visit our stalls. They are usually on holidays, in a relaxed state of mind, doing things they don’t get to do every week, and out for fun. They walk into your stall with a smile and they are more concerned with the experience than with boring things like price. They are often seeing goods that are not normally available to them and so are excited by the prospects. They are also committed, because it is too late to think about buying once they get home. They need to make a decision now. In fact they are the ultimate customer and at the top end of The Queen Victoria Market we are very lucky because 70% of our customers are tourists.
Locals, on the other hand, are shopping in a normal business week surrounded by their normal day to day worries. They are going to be a lot more conscious of price and they will be prepared to “go away and think about it”. Unlike tourists they don’t need to make a quick decision. After all they’ll be here and we’ll be here next week, or next month. They are more likely to find similar items elsewhere and they are often shopping with time constraints so the relaxed, easygoing mood is not so obvious.
Are locals lesser customers? Obviously not – we just need to understand the different environment they are shopping in and adjust our response. Locals are always going to be harder to sell to but, the big advantage they have over tourists, is that they can become regular customers. In a nutshell – “Suck it up!” and be prepared to put more work into locals – the rewards can be substantial.
Defn: “Suck it up!” - To endure a period of mental, physical, or emotional hardship with no complaining.
We want to twist the meaning of this phrase to give it a positive relevance to traders and how they improve their business.
Traders who participated in the recent Customer Surveys found that talking with their customers (asking survey questions) had a very positive effect on their relationship.
1.Customers enjoyed the exchange.
2.Customers often revealed information that would otherwise have been missed. This included a whole range of factors like where they came from, why they came to the market, what they were looking for, why they picked this stall.
3.Discussion often resulted in add-on or upgraded sales.
Market research companies charge thousands of dollars for this type of information but for us it is cheap – in fact it is free. Just another reason why we should all be doing it every day – survey or no survey.
My name is Jim Antonopoulos. I represent my father from Antons.
We have over 30 years experience in the market .We run our own shops outside, and we run an online business on ebay. At the market we sell a very big range of table linen and accessories. We are managing to stay afloat as we have a point of difference in items we are selling. The fact it is my father and myself only which means customers will get the best and most experienced service possible as we have done this for over 30 years. We get customers coming from the internet to collect goods, and we get customers from Altona (were one of our shops is situated) and visa versa.
THE MARKET, (THE GENERAL MERCHANDISE SECTION) DEFINETELY DOES NOT ATTRACT THE BUYER IT USED TO GET. ALSO WITH ALL THE DUPLICATION IN A PARTICULAR CATEGORY, THE DOLLARS MIGHT BE THE SAME THAT IS BEING SPENT BUT IT IS BEING SPREAD OUT AMONGST MORE RETAILERS. Where do I start? The market conditions are tight but we, at the market, always had an advantage. Smaller costs and overheads and point of difference items. Now, what I hear is that the market is tacky, overpriced and there are too many of the same things. ****Rents have just gone up.On what basis have they gone up? Has the market had a facelift to improve the general look—NO! **** Has the lighting improved? Absolutely atrocious . Especially a couple of weeks when it rained heavily. We barely could see - very embarrassing when customers start saying “Whats going on?” What impression does that leave? ****Between rentals for tables, boxes,carpark, rent,damage due to weather conditions, the market is getting to the point of being more expensive than renting shops. Actually, I know for a fact (as I deal with Stockland, Lendlease and Colonial) that rents outside are actually going backwards. New rents and deals are being done to stay competitive and keep traders profitable or more to the point to try and keep centres filled. ****The service we get from shopping centre justifies the rents we pay most times. We get perfect climate, complaint resolution, pretty good tenant mix, free car park for tenants. ****On a year on year basis how are people doing? Lets take away the addition of all the unnecessary duplicated shops(coffee shops, etc) which obviously has contributed to growth in sales, how are sales going? ON A STORE TO STORE BASIS HOW ARE WE GOING? ****Traffic flow figures have always been deceptive.The quality of people we are attracting is getting worse. What I mean by that is, the amount of people coming to shop properly as a destination point is rapidly decreasing. Only when we get a few tourists in do we do okay. ****I WANT TO KNOW WERE THE IMPROVEMENTS ARE? People are coming to market to waste time, drink coffee and sit and vegetate. We have made it a social occasion rather than a shopping experience.
***As in any business we face competition from not only other retailers but also other shopping centres and other entertainment venues..Have we not lost our way? While other shopping centres have added many benefits to their mix, the market has only added the same old and tired shops. Where is there a child play minding centre were mothers can leave their kids for a couple of hours while they shop? ***I DEFINETELY THINK THE MARKET PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DIRECTION OF THE MARKET NEED TO BE REPLACED, OR SAT DOWN WITH THE BLOODY MAYOR AND LISTEN TO THE TRADERS AND ACTUALLY RESPOND TO THEIR CONCERNS.
***I CHALLENGE THE LEASING REPRESENTATIVE TO SIT DOWN WITH THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE MARKET AND ANAYLISE OLD AND NEW TENANTS. WE WILL ONLY IMPROVE BY IMPROVING OUR OFFER....HOW HARD IS THAT TO UNDERSTAND...PEOPLE COME TO SEE BEAUTY, CLEANLINESS, POLITE TRADERS,ETC. THEY WILL COME BACK.
****I WOULD PERSONALLY LIKE TO SEE US TARGETTING LOCALS BUT FRANKLY MANY THINK THE MARKET IS TRASHY AND SHIT. HOW DO WE CHANGE THAT? BLOODY LISTEN.
For those of you who thought this post was just an excuse to show a pretty picture – shame on you. Our purpose was at a much higher level because this photo gained a hugely favourable reaction when it was published recently in a glamour magazine. The reason for the reaction? – The photo is a rare example of honesty.
The photo shows a tummy roll, albeit a fairly insignificant one. In a world of air-brushing, and fake tans, this photo was seen as refreshingly honest. In a broader context, consumers are sick of being told what they should think, what they should do, what is “fashionable”, what they should be buying. They are particularly sick of barely transparent attempts to mislead them and a rare show of honesty gets a good reaction.
Consumers are not the same as they were 5 or 10 years ago. Today they are more discerning, more careful with their money (given the state of the world economy, who can blame them) and more likely to question their buying decisions. Retail media regularly repeats the advice – “Understand your customer.” Understanding your customers, and communicating honestly with them, is a positive way forward.
The Federal Government is to introduce legislation in 2012establishing severe penalties for employers who employ non-citizens working in Australia without permission. The legislation is aimed at employers who wilfully exploit foreign workers.
An extensive awareness and education campaign will be launched before the new laws take effect to ensure employers and labour suppliers know how to comply with the new regime.
The darling of the retail set has surprised with yesterday’s profit warning for the pre Christmas period saying increased volume cannot compensate for reduced margins, particularly on TV panels.
JB Hi-Fi said earnings before interest and tax for the six months to December 31 would be about 5 per cent below the previous corresponding period - the company's first fall in profits despite adding new stores.
This announcement does not bode well for the general level of Christmas sales across the retail industry.
At present the video is on Youtube and available for further distribution as Just Leather sees fit. Apparently the QVM has expressed interest in circulating it on their online network – website, facebook , twitter, etc. Youtube can have significant impact in its own right with some retailer’s Youtube Channels getting huge hit numbers.
We will ask Mino of Just Leather to keep us informed of progress. If any traders are interested, you can contact the video maker, Al at Mostar Vision, on 0400 131 770.