Many retailers experience peaks and troughs in terms of trade throughout the year. At certain points in the calendar, their products may be particularly popular, while at others they may fall out of favour. Often, it makes sense for managers to stock up on retail supplies like matt paper carrier bags and white kraft bags during quieter spells when they have more time on their hands.
With this in mind, a considerable number of retailers may be eager to build up their supplies now ahead of any festive rush. Shopping levels tend to boom at Christmas and many shops find it hard to cope with the spike in customers. It is vital that they have enough plain paper carrier bags and other similar items to ensure they are able to keep operating successfully during the build-up to December 25th.
This year, bosses may be especially keen to perform well during the festive period. According to a report in the Daily Express, Christmas could “make or break” UK retailers . The publication drew attention to what it called the “killing season” in January, when spending levels fall. The newspaper pointed out that a number of big chains have collapsed over the last couple of Januarys. Offering examples, it noted that HMV, Blockbuster and Jessops all called in administrators following disappointing festive spells.
Commenting on this phenomenon, Nick Hood from Company Watch said: “Retail stakeholders will be watching very closely as the festive season gathers pace. They will monitor sales and profitability carefully to decide which retailers will survive the traditional killing season from late December to mid-February living to fight on through a rapidly changing retail battleground in 2014 and beyond.”
He added: “Despite growing confidence about the economy and signs of a retail recovery, there are still far too many zombie retailers, with negative balance sheets and debt burdens they can barely service, never mind reduce. There are also too many with ineffective online and mobile sales channels and bloated store portfolios that are becoming little more than expensive showrooms or online collection and return points. There are better times ahead, but not for all.”
Company Watch has suggested that there are more than 20,000 vulnerable UK retailers and a quarter of these are expected to fail.
High street retailers are certainly facing significant challenges at present. As well as the competition they face from similar stores, they are also fighting for custom with internet-based rivals. Online shops are often in a position to offer lower prices thanks to their reduced overheads. Also, many consumers appreciate the convenience afforded to them by cyber shopping.
In addition, consumers are operating on limited budgets at present thanks to the fact that living costs are rising while wage increases remain depressed. This means it can be tricky to persuade them to part with their cash.
It may only be by really pulling out all the stops to ensure they offer a superb retail experience to customers that high street stores are able to survive the coming months and years.
About the author – Anna Longdin is a freelance blogger who contributes regularly to a wide range of retail sites, including Morplan.