April brought good weather to the UK and the change in temperature didn’t just lift our spirits it also seems to have sent many of us rushing to the shops. The sunshine sparked a period of increased sales for many shops and there is more than one reason for this.
It would be true to say that the feel good factor induced by decent weather does make us more sanguine and therefore more likely to spend. Good weather also makes being out and about more pleasant and so we are more inclined to visit the high street. The sunshine is also a reminder that a new season has dawned and summer isn’t too far away so we are encouraged to invest in a new wardrobe for the warmer months. That all-important summer holiday doesn’t seem so distant and we may feel that our old bikini and t shirts should be replaced by appealing new styles. The fashion conscious consumer will be anxious to explore the new summer collections.
Ready and Waiting?
I suppose the big question is did the retailers see this boost in sales coming? Were they prepared with the right stock and did they get it onto the shelves quickly enough? Naturally the big chains have the right software to help them analyse historic trends and were perhaps ready and waiting for such a change in fortunes but what about the smaller retailers who cannot afford such a massive investment in the software and manpower to monitor trends?
Actually independent retailers have access to fairly sophisticated systems which are designed for their specific needs and which are affordable. EPoS (electronic point of sale) tills and software help small businesses to perform accurate stock control, to trade both in store and online, to use multiple sales channels including their own website, Amazon and eBay and to examine past and current trends.
Certainly the more savvy retailers could use their systems to monitor the effects of the weather on their level of trade and put themselves in a position to respond appropriately when the weather delivers a period of warmer days. Many retailers are yet to take full advantage of the information at their disposal but becoming more aware of the available opportunities could be vital to remaining competitive. If a trend develops for a certain colour or style of dress then the shops with those dresses are going to steal a march in their competitors. If celebrity endorsement or a major sporting event raises the profile of certain athletic shoes then it would be a good idea to have plenty in stock.
The big guys will always have an advantage over independent retailers when it comes to the resources at their disposal but it is possible for the little guys to collect a significant amount of data and to use this to help them make the right decisions. It is vital that they capitalise on this ability and use their EPoS systems to the max in what is becoming an ever more competitive world.
Article by Sally Stacey