How often do you hear traders express the view that we need fixed trading hours across our market so customers know when we are open. Customers are confused when told that the market is open from 6:00am and yet when they turn up they find that only applies to food - Specialty Merchandise Traders open much later. Equally, we trade to 5:00pm on a Friday, but in fact Specialty Merchandise closes at 3:00pm. It can be confusing.
Should that confusion be addressed? There are a number of factors to consider here:
1. QVM has clearly different precincts that serve different purposes and apply to different customer groups. A simple comparison might be between a local fresh food buyer out early in the morning with a strict timetable for a busy day, versus a leisurely tourist with no timetable and plenty of time to spare. The local wants early access to their shopping, say from 6:00am, while the tourist will rock up when they are ready, and experience suggests that is from 10:00am.
2. Consumers are more demanding in their shopping conveniences. Modern consumers want to shop across a much broader spread of hours than in the past. Retailers use to set the hours. Now consumers, with a little help from 24hr operators, expect to shop when they feel like it.
3. QVM is focused on being a Market of Markets. That is our way of addressing the “at call” demand of consumers. Clearly, we cannot all be open 24/7 because most our businesses are smaller, family operated businesses and we need a life. However parts of our market can be open at different times, creating a broader spread of hours for consumers. The answer is to stagger trading so that there is always an offer for customers but not every trader is required to be on deck at all times. Different precincts of our market will operate at different times so that whenever a customer turns up at QVM they will not be disappointed. At least that is the theory.
The proposition here is that we will never be able to get standard trading hours across our market, and neither should we. To minimise confusion we need to find the explanation that works best for customer understanding and live with the inequities that modern market trading requires.
It is all in the communication. As one trader tells his customers – “We are open every day except Monday but check the website.”
By Greg Smith
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