Retailers have been bending over backwards to satisfy their customers to the point where they are now in a crab-lock of subservience and the customer is issuing the orders.
The customer knows he is King and that if he plays is hand carefully he will get everything he wants at the price he is prepared to pay.
Customer power couldn’t be more evident than in the run up to Christmas 2007. The slow build up from mid-November put so much pressure on retailers that many buckled under the strain and began their January sales before people had finished their Christmas shopping.
So even the laziest most half-hearted shopper who habitually waits till the last minute could win out and pick up half price gifts days before Christmas when normally he would be a prize candidate for desperation-driven overspend.
The year saw just two peak weekends according to Experian company Footfall with an overall decline of 2.8% in the total number of people out shopping.
However, what the footfall figures do not show is the online activity nor do they give any indication of how much people are actually spending.
Online activity not only includes buying but also research leading up to purchase. And it may well be the case that given the online facilities available people can figure out exactly what they want to buy before leaving the house. So they spend less time pottering and perhaps make just one big monster trip to the high street when they buy everything in one hit.
BUSINESS FORUM COMMENT
The Internet has added an extra layer of complexity to the Christmas season and retailers will need to take it seriously if they want to have any hope of getting back in the driving seat.
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