Retail sales dip leaving small firms in the lurch

A dip in retail sales has ratcheted up the pressure on small businesses, making it essential that they work to maximise their revenue opportunities.

In what has been a difficult period for retailers, an analysis of insolvency notices in the London Gazette by KPMG shows that 56 nationwide firms went into insolvency in the months between April and October.

Among them was Jaeger and Jacques Vert, while the firm's retail monitor also shows that sales decreased by 1% year-in-year in October.

This, coupled with increased operating costs and the reduced value of the pound amid economic uncertainty, mean retailers have had to keep a watchful eye on their finances.

Christmas and Black Friday often provide a boost to sales but the final month of the year still represents a challenge for smaller retailers.

The key is to manage costs as effectively as possible, especially when it comes to staff planning and stock management.

Excess stock can be discounted to drive sales, while temporary staff can plug gaps in busy periods to ensure demand can be met.

There is also a need to plan ahead for 2018, particularly when there is still so much uncertainty over how and when the UK leaving the EU will occur.

The National Living Wage is set to rise again which will cause outgoings to increase, meaning retailers will need to be watchful over which products and stores are profitable.

Underperforming locations may need to be shut down while products that don't sell will likely be removed from the company inventory in order to boost finances.

Businesses will need to ensure that they are doing all they can to encourage customers to spend with them, be it through marketing or other promotional activity.

Should they face difficult times and struggle to survive, then the administration procedure may provide some much-needed breathing space from creditors.

A range of other insolvency measures may also be applicable, but retailers will need to act quickly to give themselves the best chances of survival

By Phil Smith


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