Retailers may not be the only ones worried about this year’s lackluster Christmas shopping season.
Businesses in general may have a harder time selling to – and keeping – customers in 2013.
Recent polls show Americans are gloomy about the economy. And it looks like Americans’ shopping habits at the end of 2012 reflect those fears.
MasterCard Advisors’ Spending Pulse reports that holiday-related sales rose only 0.7% from October 28 through December 24. That’s a big drop from 2% over the same time period in 2011.
Right on cue, stock share prices for retailers tanked this past week, which also hurt broad indexes. Investors are worried that sales and profit numbers for retailers (generally reported in February) will disappoint.
Why businesses should be concerned
So what’s spooking customers? The fiscal cliff, Obamacare, unemployment – who knows?
When large groups behave the same way, understanding the reason or reasons behind it is secondary. All we know is that customers are buying significantly less than usual (less even that some analysts predicted).
The key is: How should a business respond?
1) Keep inventory levels in check: Retailers are already kicking themselves for loading up their shelves with merchandise that didn’t move. Now they’ll be cutting prices left and right. Could that scenario could play out again in other industries come 2013?
2) Stress service: Do your customers appreciate the service and support your company provides? Could they use a reminder? However you can differentiate yourself from competitors, the better.
Do you think the economy will rebound in 2013? Let us know about it below.