I’m not normally stuck for things to talk about, however when the call came through for this week’s column, I have to admit I had no burning issues on my mind. Until, that is, I heard some exciting predictions for the year ahead by Booker CEO Charles Wilson.
Speaking at a recent briefing, Wilson predicted that 2012 would be the biggest year for indies since the launch of the Lottery, mainly due to the forthcoming display ban, which he believes will bestow a £500m sales opportunity on independent retailers once the multiples go dark in April. All this talk of future opportunities helped clarify some of my own thoughts, which I, and many other retailers, have at this time of year.
Now is not just the time for planning how to make this Christmas our busiest ever, but also look at our direction for 2012 and how we are going to ensure not just survival but growth in these tough times. I agree with Wilson that the consumer has changed, and will continue to do so in a big way. We are already seeing a massive shift towards value and, credit where credit’s due, Booker has responded well to this (as is reflected in Wilson’s dividends!)
Of course, many retailers still believe that pricemarked packs and promotions aren’t profitable, but I firmly believe that without them you don’t have a look in. It’s the reason why a growing number of retailers are now choosing to move all their high margin food to go, impulse and alcohol to the front of their stores and grocery towards the back.
So my message to my fellow retailers is use this time to consider how you can offer exactly what your customers will be seeking in 2012, in terms of service, range and, of course, value. Once you’ve done that you’ll need to get the word out there, so think about how to market your business locally. I know I will.