Bottomless Pit of Promotions

Retail Editor 3, Carole Sloan, October 13, 2008

Yes, we're in a situation that none of us has experienced before. But panic is not the answer to how to effectively deal with all the elements — controllable and non-controllable — that are swirling around us on both a personal and professional level.

The numbers for retailing in September have been dreadful — unsurprisingly so. And the forecasts by some of the retail leading lights for the balance of this year, and into next, have been on a similar negative basis.

As a result of the growing mood of the last quarter, there is a definite move at retail — and therefore on the supplier side — to feed the ever-growing appetite for cheap, cheaper and cheapest.

The retailing world is alive with all sorts of promotional exploits almost unheard of heretofore. Witness:

  • A furniture retailer's promotion earlier this year that offered an interest-free, no-down payment, no-payment program 'til 2013. Will the consumer or the furniture be around at that time?

  • A home furnishings specialty retailer noted for fine jewelry and tableware as well as home textiles is now pushing 17-piece bedroom-in-a-bag sets for $119.99.

  • One of the world's largest retailers of window coverings is offering an extra 30% off as part of its "super hot buys" event, as well as a simultaneous "buy one, get one for $1" promotion in window coverings.

While these are but a few of the examples of the panic going on now, it also is the ideal time to sit back, identify opportunities and develop programs and products to move into the marketplace.

This business is truly in need of a massive dose of creative, aggressive activities before it succumbs to being a commodity business.

Times are tough, and for some, even more so. But keep in mind, the pit is bottomless.

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