“Now is the time to make sure your shop stands out,” says Bira’s Andrew Goodacre

Andrew Goodacre
  • Written by Andrew Goodacre, CEO, Bira

Retailers recognise the importance of the Golden Quarter, but many aren’t always as well prepared as they could be. This time of the year shouldn’t be taken for granted. It’s probably the most competitive period – especially since the introduction of Black Friday, which seems to have grown from one single day to an entire month of promotions and special offers.

For fashion retailers especially, this Golden Quarter is all the more most crucial. It’s been difficult to predict consumer behaviour this year when it comes to clothing. Not only have we had to deal with a cost of living crisis, but we have experienced a mild winter, late spring, wet summer, hot autumn and now what seems to be a new weekly storm. Moving seasonal stock when the seasons are so variable is a nightmare, so well done to all boutiques that have made it through this year.

We know that customers will be looking to spend money this Christmas. However, the reality is that it will probably be less than previous years. That’s why retailers need to focus on their customers and increasing market share.

Retail sales seem to have become polarised: quality brands have done well while retailers that offer value have done well. Don’t get caught in the middle – make sure your customers know what you’re offering and how good it is. Communicate the quality and value you’re offering very clearly to your customers – and I mean really shout about it.

It is unlikely that an indie shop will compete on price alone. It is therefore important to think about how value is added to your products. Price will still be important but so will bundles, discounted accessories with purchases and quality service. The smaller independent fashion retailer can still add that personal touch when dealing with customers via advice, styling and giving confidence to the customer. Large stores ignore service preferring to focus of ‘frictionless technology’ to make shopping easier. That’s not an option for the small retailer – and now is the time to for indies to take advantage.

More than 70 per cent of purchases are still made in stores so it’s vital that your shop stands out

Presentation of products will also be incredibly important, and this seems to be a skill that is sometimes overlooked. Some of the larger businesses (garden centres especially) started putting up their Christmas decorations in September. For high street shops it is all about the shop windows, websites and social media platforms. Don’t underestimate the power of creating an imaginative, eye-catching, memorable display. More than 70 per cent of purchases are still made in stores so it’s vital that your shop stands out. The interior of the shop also needs to be well presented, focusing on the products you want to sell, supported by communications through your social media channels.

Finally, this busy period is also a great way to prepare for 2024. Your footfall will hopefully be higher and now is the time to really get to know customers. Managing customer data is a really important retail tool and you should be using the Golden Quarter to improve your consumer knowledge. With this in place you can then focus on personalising your marketing activities throughout 2024 – an extension of delivering that personal touch and going the extra mile.