My Column

Can our Shops weather the sales storm?

  • Date: Monday 15th April 2013
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I’m sure I‘m among the hordes of Scots welcoming the end of winter and looking forward to the longer, warmer days of spring.

We’ve been bereft of warmth, wrapping up to protect ourselves from the abundant frosty chills and heavy downpours.

I accept this unreliable weather as par for the course now. I don’t let it influence my day-to-day life and tend to go about my business rain or shine.

The only time I’m really affected by our extreme weather conditions is when I’m travelling to London to attend business meetings and the airports are closed.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not ideal but there are some things you just can’t control.

We Scots are a hardy breed. We’ll pull up our socks and brave the harshest conditions to earn a crust.

Unfortunately, March was a month lacking in spring freshness, with snowy blizzards threatening to stop the country in its tracks, especially in more remote areas.

I was quite surprised to read that retail sales were damaged because of the bitter temperatures. Fashion shoppers shunned new spring/summer lines, bathing costumes, slinky dresses and smart shorts in favour of curling up next to the fire wrapped in a favourite woolly jumper and thermal leggings.

Accountancy firm BDO carried out a sales tracker on last years’ March results and saw sales plummet by 0.9 per cent.

Debenhams led the way in January by issuing a profit loss warning following the heavy snow fall. Marks & Spencer closely followed suit issuing a statement about the fall of profits over the last three months.

We’re seeing the new generation of shoppers turning their backs on the High Street; opting to stay indoors with friends and surf the net to browse the latest trends.

I have to question this though. Surely stores like Tiso and North Face raked in a bob or two on the back of the icy weather and snow?

Stores seem to be stringent in the timing of new lines but it seems ridiculous that we’re forced to buy short sleeved tops when snow is lying on the ground!

I think I’m talking on behalf of a large section of the Scottish population when I say we’re not in the market for summer sun gear.

But it’s clear the cyber generation is quickly evolving into all realms of retail. Shoppers can utilise their laptops, tablets and smart phones to immerse themselves in the virtual shopping arena to buy a wealth of products.

Even travel firms are getting in on the act, developing apps to allow consumers to book their sunshine breaks while they’re on the move.

What better way to cheer yourself up on a dreary Monday morning when you’re sitting on a packed train or bus than to whip out your smartphone and find yourself the perfect dream holiday.

People rarely have time to pop into their local travel agent these days so it’s a smart business move – forward-thinking companies have realised that to stay ahead of the game they have to cater their services to suit the modern day man and woman who are juggling work and family every single day.

It the perfect example of business evolving to meet the changing demands of customers.

Stand still and you simply lose.


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