January and the start of any new year is usually a time for optimism for many. Unfortunately for many of our well-known high street giants, the announcement of revenue figures from the pre-Christmas run up and festive period have — for a few years now — brought very little encouragement.
November of last year, a month that usually kicks of what many hope will be a stampede of shoppers to high streets and shopping malls up and down the country, was the weakest for consumer spending for more than a year, with the Office for National Statistics indicating retail sales were down by 0.6% when compared to the previous year.
As far as that time period was concerned, there were certainly a number of external factors that may have impacted on shoppers staying home; the uncertainty that comes with a general election and three years of Brexit departure negotiations are two that have definitely had some degree of impact.
However, external factors, whether they be in buying trends, economic performance or political matters, will always remain. So how can retailers’ weather what can appear to be a never-ending torrent and storm of people deserting our once popular high streets?
The answer may well lay in efficiency. Where sales fall, profit declines. This of course puts greater emphasis on margin, something that effective stocktaking can definitely help with.
Stock loss during busy periods increases
If you’re already suffering from a loss in customer numbers, then one thing you can ill afford is an increase in inefficiencies. What do we mean by inefficiencies in this case? Stock loss; items lost somewhere in your system that are no longer able to be sold without you knowing.
The issue is that instances of this can increase during the busiest periods, through a variety of means:
You may be surprised to hear that there are more than 380,000 cases of shoplifting across the UK every year and that this figure has been pretty much constantly on the rise for the past two decades. Where there are more people, you can almost guarantee there will be more theft, meaning the peak periods can become rife with stock flying from shelves without going through the till. This means that stock on the shop floor can be unavailable before you notice, leading to lost sales and revenue. The quicker you know, the quicker you can address the problem; that’s exactly where external stocktaking can help
- Inexperienced staff under pressure
As humans we all make mistakes. One of the most common causes will of course be when you put someone under pressure, something that is there in spade loads through the busiest periods of the year. Combine that with new staff brought in to deal with the influx in extra trade and you’ve got yourself the perfect storm for potential problems. Whether it’s mislabelling, errors on the till or in the warehouse, small errors can quickly add up to big issues, and just like shoplifting problems can lead to your stock being unavailable to punters on the shop floor.
Your external stocktaker should be identifying all of the areas that stock is being lost so you can make the right decisions to address the problem. As soon as you have, profitability should be on the rise as the products people want to buy are there when they want and need them.
We’ve been working with retailers with external stocktaking services for more than 30 years. For more information on how we can help you increase profitability in your stores please give our team a call on 01637 874609.