Your views

Mike Nichols of Costcutter Dringhouses, York

These days, making money as a retailer has become challenging. Now it’s all about survival and what you can do to meet rising costs.

It’s getting harder, and there doesn’t seem to be any progress. We’re all busy. We’re increasing turnover and working on margins, but the costs outweigh everything. 

Retailers are working harder to achieve more sales, but aren’t actually getting anywhere in terms of the bottom line. 

We need to think about new ways of making money, and retailers who don’t won’t survive. 

The next year is going to be complicated because of the menthol ban and the rise in the living wage – this year will be a case of ‘make or break’.

Mike Nicholls of Costcutter Dringhouses

Minimising the damage

I get the feeling the government is oblivious to what will happen to retailers. We have to think about what we can do to minimise potential damage. What can we do to get our basket spend up when these challenges hit us?

I’ve been chatting to Costcutter, who is giving us lots of support as a business partner. It’s important symbol groups act as business partners.

We’ve got the deal with UberEats and other things, but will we need more to replace what we’ll lose from the menthol ban? 

We need to look at how to capture existing customers. The key feedback for us is to look at promotional activity, and capture every moment to get people in our stores.

My challenge to Costcutter and others in the industry is to come up with things such as in-store theatre kits. It’s about looking at what the store looks like because it appears we’re all doing the same thing. 

We also need stronger promotions and more link deals. Costcutter only do promotions a few times a year, which isn’t enough to replace the tobacco sales we’re going to lose. 

Costcutter responds

A Costcutter spokesperson said: “We’re focused on helping our independent retailers like Mike to thrive and we have strong plans in place for 2020 to continue to help them grow their sales and profit.

“We appreciate that across the sector costs are rising and that our retailers are feeling this keenly too.

“Our role is to provide independent retailers with innovative solutions to face these challenges and grow sales. Our Shopper First: Drive Five to Thrive growth programme, is great example of how our retailers can benefit from tailored and actionable insights to address their specific shopper and local needs, to grow their sales.

“We’re continuing to invest in marketing and technology. We have retailer social media marketing upskilling sessions planned in January and early February to help more of our retailers benefit from reaching up to 6 times more shoppers on average, through advertising our front of leaflet deals on their social media channels.

“In addition, we are building on the success of our footfall driving marketing campaigns in 2019 to make this year’s performance even stronger for our independent retailers and underpin these with leading offers across every promotional period to appeal to new and existing shoppers.

Targeted advertising

“The success we have seen with audio advertising is another area we will continue to invest in across 2020 using highly targeting advertising to help drive footfall into stores around key offers and promotions. We will also continue to highlight the benefits to retailers of signing up to our partnership with Uber Eats to offer a last-mile delivery service to shoppers, opening up sales opportunities to a new shoppers who want a ‘digital first’ approach.

“We firmly believe that we are better together and by working in partnership with our retailers we can not only help them grow their retail footfall and sales but also help them reduce their costs in order to enhance their profitability.

“Being part of the CSG family enables our retailers to access our new Business Services package, providing access to preferential rates and deals on core services such as utilities, insurance, telecoms and banking. It’s free to access and on average we have saved our retailers over £3,000.

“Our dedicated listening sessions with retailers is another way we work together with retailers, keeping close to what is on their minds. Legislative change is often raised at these sessions and these changes will continue apace in 2020. However, through the success we’ve had recently in reducing the administrative and operational burden that tobacco track and trace presented to our retailers, it stands us in good stead to further support them with the new challenges ahead.

“Combined with our unbeaten levels of retail support and our work with key trade associations this year, where we have championed the cause of independent retailers across the UK, we have developed a blueprint of how we can help our retailers navigate these complex issues so they can continue to focus on growing their business.”

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