Most consumers say that the run-up to Christmas starts when the John Lewis advert hits our screens, or for those of us who are a little older, when the Coca Cola lorry comes meandering around the corner. For retailers it comes much earlier, with preparations starting many months before that little red van gets out of the garage and when the John Lewis ads are just an idea on a mood board.
It is a time during which many will take as much as 40% of their annual sales, so the key is to be ready, more so this year than any before….
The importance of Christmas this year
This year has undoubtedly been one of the most volatile for retailers across the country, with a national lockdown meaning sales were almost non-existent for many for up to three months. As a consequence, this has made the run up to Christmas all the more vital.
Whilst stocktaking is often seen as arbitrary numbers on a spreadsheet, it’s vital to conduct one before you enter a busy period such as Christmas. Why? Simply because if you don’t have it, you can’t sell it! Effective stocktaking should allow you to maximise the amount of sales you can generate by ensuring items are always available; this in turn allows you to maximise the opportunity Christmas brings.
Increase in online sales
As we come to grips with social distancing and the potential fear that comes with Coronavirus, more and more people are buying essentials, gifts and other items online — in May, internet sales of goods accounted for 33.3% of the UK’s entire retail activity, a new record that was close to double pre-lockdown levels.
If you’ve seen an increase in online sales have you considered the impact on your stock? Higher return rates, integration of ecommerce systems with other stocktaking and staff errors as they come to grips with larger volumes of online orders are all common causes of stock inaccuracy; as we said… if you don’t have it you won’t be able to sell it.
We recommend anyone seeing heightened demand in their online store conducts regular stock checks in order to ensure small errors don’t lead to larger stock problems.
We’re all used to having more and more staff absent due to illness at this time of the year (remember that seasonal flu is also still around!). If we add on top of that the issue of people having to self-isolate due to showing symptoms, being unable to get a test or travelling to a country that lands on a quarantine list, this year is going to be even more challenging for retailers and their staff.
When staffing levels are lower, mistakes will be made. That’s inevitable. How quickly you catch them through effective stocktaking will dictate how large they end up being.
Stock is generally bought with an understanding of the sales you’re likely to experience. So what do you do when the term ‘unprecedented’ is one of the most common off the lips of media commentators and government ministers on a daily basis? The truth is that the only way to tackle uncertainty is to have the best possible information at your fingertips. Stocktaking gives you that – and you need it now more than ever.
Abacus Valuers has worked with retailers for more than 30 years. If you think your business could use some help navigating the most unpredictable Christmas period for retailers, give our team a call on 01637 874609.