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Viewpoint from Will Jones – March 2019

Planning ahead for positive opportunities.

A viewpoint from Will Jones, Housewares Sector Director of BHETA.

It’s a real danger for both suppliers and retailers that the uncertainties of the changing market and the prolonged confusion that is BREXIT cause loss of focus – and worse, loss of enthusiasm. It can be difficult to be 100% positive in these confusing times, but there is plenty of evidence that this industry can look ahead and prosper.

One of the most persuasive reasons for retail enthusiasm is the increasing evidence that the consumer is still up for spending money if the destination is appealing and there is a positive vibe in the atmosphere – whether that’s a national sporting event, a week or so of sunny weather, or a big social, Royal or charity extravaganza.  It is well worth planning for such opportunities and making them part of the business case for investment – instead of regarding them as one-off phenomena.

Last year, it was remarkable just how much Royal Weddings, World Cups and prolonged warm weather did for sales. Those retailers – and suppliers – who had been wise enough or lucky enough to anticipate the possibilities of such events and stocked accordingly reaped huge benefits. The trick going forward is not only to predict specific opportunities like these, but also to see the likelihood of more consumer enthusiasms breaking through the gloom.

Planning accordingly, especially if it can be with collaborative destination shopping in mind has real possibilities.

Moreover, based on recent experiences, prediction is more and more possible. Big opportunities like football or rugby or cricket, when it is genuinely possible for the national pride to manifest itself in purchasing frenzies for barware or BBQs can be on the calendar well ahead of time.

As can the big charity opportunities like the current Red Nose Day, or Children in Need. Consumer behaviour falls into positive patterns around such events, just as it does around the old seasonal favourites of Valentine’s, Mother’s Day and Christmas. A Royal wedding is a bonus, but there are plenty of other opportunities and 2018 proved just how many incremental sales could be generated – especially if the sun shines as well.

This February we saw a spell of warm weather which broke records. Instead of seeing it as freakish, suppliers and retailers should instead be noting that more of this very un-British weather is actually very likely, and as a result reconsidering traditional seasonality accordingly when it comes to stock and to the promotional calendar.

Another way to explore opportunities in good time to do something about them is to come along to the Exclusively Shows in June. Billed as housewares and small domestic electricals exhibitions, they are nevertheless perfect for garden centre owners and buyers. Not just in terms of indoor product and gift opportunities, but also because they showcase coming consumer trends, which are eminently exploitable in terms of potential sales.

Scarlet Opus, the shows’ trend forecasters not only look at perennially useful trends like colour, but they also look at the world events that will shape consumer buying in the coming year. If you are not already considering the potential of the Tokyo Olympics, then you should be. Not only will it foster an interest in all things Japanese, it will also galvanise spending on food, drink and leisure, and there are whole retail departments that can buy stock in readiness for that.

For more information, contact BHETA member services on 0121 237 1130.

Source: BHETA, March 2019

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