Behind the Till - we thought we had seen the worst during the pandemic; however, we now face a whole new set of different and difficult challenges which will test many retail businesses and their employees.

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Julia Redman
B&RUK RETAIL EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTOR

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3rd November 2022 -  BEHIND THE TILL - an Insight into Brand Retail Buying

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As we march headlong into the final, golden quarter of the year, rarely has it felt less “golden”. 

Ever the optimist, even I am finding it quite difficult to see the positives, when inflation is at its’ highest for around 40 years, the pound has hit rock bottom, gas and electricity prices are soaring, and the war in Ukraine continues to destroy lives and livelihoods. 

We thought we had seen the worst during the pandemic; however, we now face a whole new set of different and difficult challenges which will test many retail businesses and their employees.

Pricing in Dollars 
The retail industry buys the vast majority of its product in US dollars. At the time of writing the pound has dropped so much in value, the squeeze is on. Retailers and brands have already tried to swallow inflated shipping costs and rising raw material prices, soaking up the fall in the pound as well is going to be extremely tough, particularly with consumer confidence at an all-time low. 

Realistically, brands and retailers are left with two options – either to increase selling prices (difficult if the aim is to maintain or increase sales), or demand ever lower prices from their suppliers, factories and licensees. 

What will be the impact further back in the supply chain? What are the consequences for the workers in Far Eastern factories, and for the quality of the product produced? – post some comments below as I would love to hear your thoughts.

As I wrote the draft for this article on World Mental Health Day (10th October), I have had time to think and consider the way our businesses have had to adapt over the past couple of years, to deliver greater focus on “people” and “product”. 

These are, ultimately, the two things that matter most in our drive to deliver “must have items” that our retail teams will have no trouble selling, to customers that love them. “Love” is the critical word here. 

A customer with diminished disposable income, is only likely to part with some of that cash for a product that they consider to be better than anything they already have in their wardrobe, or home. When it comes to Christmas spending, priority is likely to go to gifts and celebration for children, friends, and family. 

As we enter into the selling period that can make or break a retailers’ finances, it is going to be increasingly important that we listen to our employees and customers, celebrate every success, however small, maintain a positive attitude and embrace change. We might just come out the other side a more successful business with all eyes firmly focused on a prosperous future. 

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