Retailers are reacting to the disappointing summer and economic squeeze with a sharpened focus on ranging and stock managment.
Some have increased the frequency of their deliveries to reduce stock levels and ease cash flow, while others have cut back their ranges more intensively and increased the regularity of stock checks.
“We haven’t got the luxury of cash flow that we had in the past,” said Ramesh Shingadia of Londis Southwater, West Sussex. “It was supposed to be the best summer ever, but it’s been really flat, and then there’s just the general issue of austerity.”
However, he claimed that resourceful retailers who worked “leaner and meaner” would pull through. “We’re having to work much smarter. We used to have deliveries three days a week, but in the last six months we’ve moved to six days a week, which means stockholding has gone down a lot.” He warned fellow retailers not to be seduced by deals in cash and carries unless they were positive that the products would sell in store.
Dean Holborn, who owns two stores in Redhill, Surrey, agreed that managing stock more efficiently was the best way to ease cash flow. “Cash flow has been tight over the last 18 months. It would be nice to buy products on a bigger basis, but it’s a case of managing space and managing money - there’s no point in tying it up in stock,” he said. “At the moment I’ve been looking at epos and been more ruthless in terms of weeding out slow movers.”
Jenny Wynne Jones of Spar Holywell in Wales was also feeling the pinch. “This summer has been shocking. The first week of the holidays was good, but then it was dead.” She too has tightened up her operations.
“I’ve just put tobacco products on stock control. It’s a lot of work to count them all up and inputting them onto the computer system, but we can’t afford to get it wrong,” she said. “It’s so tough out there, but you just have to stick it out.”
“You can’t take your eye off the ball for one second if you want to suceed these days. We are constantly reviewing our ranges and progress. When business slows down, as it did for us in May, we instantly changed our focus to promotions so as not to lose out. We also stock a huge amount of products from local producers and we have a fantastic relationship with them, so when things do slow down, they understand.”
Budgens Ascot, Berkshire
“We’re having to scrutinise every buying decision more closely than ever before. However, the disappointing summer weather and economic squeeze has been good for us as more people have taken to shopping locally rather than getting in their cars and driving to the supermarkets.”
Hambledon Village Shop, Surrey