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Picture the scene, it’s just after the New Year and, where a week ago the crowds thronged the store, now all is quiet. From time to time a lone individual wanders in, takes a cursory walk around and


then leaves – and you still have 2014 calendars to shift as well as those quite unspeakable things, Christmas cards, which seemed such a boon not two weeks ago. So what’s to be done? The answer is simple and problematical in the same moment – cut, and cut deep.

Slash and burn – slash prices and burn your way through what remains of the stock that you so carefully selected only a few months ago as the festive fun loomed.

There may only be the little matter of around 350 or so days until Christmas 2014 comes around, but there are always bargain hunters who will be looking to save themselves cash by making their purchases a little ahead of time.

Short-termism is as endemic among shoppers as it is in the serried ranks of retailers, but this doesn’t mean residual stock can’t be sold. A head buyer once informed me, back when I was a commercial sprog, that “I can tell you exactly how many items I’ll sell at the beginning of a season, I just can’t tell you what price they’ll sell at.” This is good sense. In any range you ever purchase, whatever the occasion, there will always be a few dogs that you just can’t shift – except you can, of course, just not at the mark-up you anticipated.

At this point, it’s worth noting that other tendency among many shopkeepers – good husbandry. There’s the ever-present temptation to box up items that aren’t time-sensitive to bring out again

John Ryan is Stores Editor at Retail Week where he’s worked for more than a decade covering store design, visual merchandising and what makes things sell in-store. In a previous life he was a retail buyer. T: 07710 429926 twitter: @newstores


HE fi rst cut is the deepest may sound familiar if you’re a Rod Stewart fan, but it will also ring a bell if you happen to be in the business of running a greetings card and giftware shop.

Cut - and cut deep!


January is the cruelest month for shopkeepers, but it needn’t be the end, there are ways to deal with leftover stock, says retail commentator John Ryan.

once the season of goodwill beckons again a year later.

Sounds like a plan, except the reason you still have these is something to do with the fact that they didn’t sell fi rst time round so what’s likely to be different in the Christmas period still to come? The unpalatable fact is that festive leftovers are money tied up. Converting stock back into cash may be painful, but is far better, long-term, than sitting on it. There’s also the knowledge that sitting behind every card-buyer’s regrets is fresh stock waiting to come in. Even in these days of short-term purchasing, slow movers block the stockroom and selling space which would be better used to keep your enterprise moving along. Spring Fair and Top Drawer may still seem some way off as you’re reading this, but your shop

can’t remain devoid of novelty – remedial action is an urgent requirement. Shoppers’ mindsets undergo a profound shift between mid-December 22 and the end of the month/beginning of January. Most people will trade price for convenience in the run-up to the big day, after that it will take a lot more to make them dig deep.

The trick is to be thankful for the margins and sales you achieved pre-Christmas, take a deep breath and then get out the red pen. There’s absolutely no merit in hanging on and, the longer you leave things, the more a sense of regret will begin to creep in.

January is a time for taking stock of where you are, rather than expecting things to continue as they were. Old stock is a perennial stumbling block for retailers but, ho ho ho, Valentine’s Day and Easter are just around the corner…

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