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AGENT PROVOCATEUR Sale or not to Sale? T

here are several times where we, as mere human beings, just don’t know the answer to a question. The old favourite is of course, why toast always lands butter side down? However, being a representative, I have a different

gripe. At the petrol station, why is the pump handle always covered in diesel? And….. following this, why is it that when I search for the little plastic gloves (like a dog looking for somewhere to pee) they are never in the same location…! Sometimes there are on a bin, then on a pump… And then there’s the topic of middle lane drivers…… arrgh!! All joking aside, as a proud footwear ambassador, many of my

customers turn to me and ask for my advice on different topics – which I gladly answer with the best of my ability: as at the end of the day, if my clients prosper, then so do I. However, there is one question that I am continually being

asked, and (although I agree that my intelligence is much larger than that of a mere mortal), I am stumped. So, get to the point, I hear you cry – what’s the question? Cue drumroll - ‘When do you put out your sale rail’? In the ‘perfect world’ scenario, retailers wouldn’t need to

have a sale. Following waking up with no grey hairs (or new wrinkles) and a record win on the lottery, someone else would be in the shop already ordering the correct amount of stock from their friendly rep. The footwear would then arrive in store on time, as previously arranged – I’d like to point out that I’m not silly enough to mention anything about late deliveries in this article. Then, on opening at 11am (perfect world again), a regular

stream of customers, one by one, would appear in the shop resulting of the sale of every pair. This would happen every day, until the new season began, when you’re new stock would arrive on time (again skirting around this issue) and round we go again. As much as we all wish that the above was the case, the current

climate has unnerved even the bravest retailer. As tenacity grows, each retailer chases a larger slice of the business cake, with little or no preference on whether it has icing on it or not. So back to the original question, when do you put up the

infamous sale rails and unload your stock at ‘discounted’ prices? I commonly hear retailers base their decisions on what everyone

else is doing, mainly with a huge focus on the local multiple. This is all well and good, but has the independent considered that multiples could be working to a planned time schedule and that this is something which may not suit the independent store. In my opinion, Independents should consider several factors before launching into ‘sale mode’. Firstly, does the multiple offer similar stock to you? If this is not

the case, then why would you follow their decision to put on a sale? Customers most likely come to your shop purely out of habit i.e. ‘I


always buy my shoes there’, for customer service (fitting) or to buy something they cannot purchase elsewhere. In all of these cases, customers will still come to your shops, even if the multiples are offering a 70% discount, with all the bells and whistles. Secondly, there’s your own cash flow to consider. If you’ve

purchased stock, every pair that your sell at the recommended retail price (i.e. not discounted), goes towards your cash for the next season and, importantly, your own profit. Whilst I can understand this statement may be a little patronising, it can be easy to lose sight of why you are in business – at the end of the day, it’s all about the money (cue the Tom Cruise shouting).

In the ‘perfect world’ scenario, retailers wouldn’t need to have a sale. Following waking up with no grey hairs (or new wrinkles) and a record win on the lottery, someone else would be in the shop already ordering the correct amount of stock from their friendly rep.

Thirdly, there’s your reputation. It’s a common misconception amongst the public that discount is a good thing – it’s not. I realise that ‘sales’ are a common thing in retail, but looking much deeper into the psychology (and back to my training many moons ago) by discounting a product you are effectively telling your customer that there is something wrong with it. Otherwise, why wasn’t the product at this price to start with? This may sound a little daft, but this also subconsciously reflects on your shop – if you don’t have a sale, or the sale is small, the public are more likely to think you are doing well. People’s perceptions in most cases will effect where they buy from, so why give them any ammunition? So again you ask, when do you put out your sale rail? It’s all “well and good” quoting psychology, and getting into the theoretical details, but what is the answer. The answer is – take into consideration all of the above, but a sale is all down to when it is right for you – and not anyone else. Other than that… just look at what everyone else is doing.

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