It's official; the Christmas frenzy has started. Stores are full of decorations, advent calendars, Christmas cards and some of the big names have started to release their annual festive adverts. As we begin to count down the days, store owners are busy ensuring they have successful stint this year.
Christmas is always greatly anticipated by retail businesses who have been working on their festive season strategies all year. The Christmas period is without a doubt the busiest time of year for stores up and down the country who expect to see customers flooding in and sales skyrocketing.
However, this isn't an inescapable truth and you shouldn't just rely on panic buying anymore because our new savvy shopper is more strategic than you think. You can't just assume you'll sell all your stock because it's Christmas - you need to remain competitive in the market. Consumers are reliant on sales, vouchers and money comparison sites these days and await days like Black Friday with anticipation; this is a sign of strategic purchases born from our obsessive discount culture.
Everybody spends more at Christmas and this is certainly reflected by retail store yearly sales figures. However, with the abundance of competition and offers on the market at the moment, are this new generation of savvy consumers breaking the mould?
Research has recently found that 'savvier' households are set to splurge £796 on Christmas this year. Of course, that's still a hefty sum of money to spend on one day but it is down 3% from last year's average spend of £820 - proof that consumers are becoming more and more sale dependent.
Recently it was revealed that Morrison's supermarket received some bad news when reviewing their sales figures after deciding to cut back on money saving customer vouchers and this story perfectly exemplified the danger of ignoring consumer demands. Running a business is difficult at the best of times, never mind the added pressure of Christmas, the deflationary impact the season can have and flippant customer behaviours looming over you.
Nobody pays full price for anything these days because they know that somewhere, it'll probably be cheaper.
Managing competitors in business is critical but often overlooked by many entrepreneurs I meet. This is because, quite rightly, they're so passionate about their business that they believe it blows the rest of the competition out of the water. The trick is to make your customer feel the same way.
Everybody loves a good bargain and although brand loyalty will always be a winning factor, as will the consumer need to feel as if they got themselves a great deal.
With the proliferation of sale vouchers and discount havens we find ourselves in generation bargain hunter and there's never been a more important time to effectively manage your position in the market whilst competition is so rife. This is why like for like pricing has boomed - go to your high street today and you'll see every different department store exclaiming a new price match system.
Pricing is always a tricky subject because you can't always compete with some of your cheaper competitors. This is where you need to capitalise on your USP; do you offer impeccable service? Illustrate it. Do something to help you stand out if you want to have a successful Christmas period this year.
I really want to champion our small businesses this Christmas and I'm looking forward to seeing what they have to offer us. If you're a retail business hoping to survive the festive season...